To mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger was commissioned to create a permanent work of public art across the entire network. In each of the Underground’s 270 stations, he placed a uniquely designed labyrinth, an ancient symbol representing spiritual and imaginative voyages akin to the countless circuitous journeys made on the Tube.
Labyrinth: A Journey Through London’s Underground is a compelling record of this extraordinary project. It is also a vivid celebration of the Underground and of London itself. Thierry Bal’s striking photographs of all the labyrinths in situ reveal the diverse face and fabric of the network and its users, while fascinating ‘I-never-knew-that’ facts about each station and their surrounds bring surprising perspectives to the daily commute and all stations beyond.
Transport historian Christian Wolmar tells the story of the emergence and development of the Underground network and the role it has played in shaping the metropolis. Will Self responds to Wallinger’s work with a personal reflection that takes us into the depths of memory and through the disorientating effects of urban life; and Marina Warner, in conversation with Wallinger, explores the historical and mythological significance of the labyrinth and places the project in the context of the artist’s practice. Above all, Labyrinth presents a unique portrait of a system on which London and its people depend and thrive.
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All photographs © 2014 Thierry Bal. Courtesy of Art on the Underground and Art/Books
Mark Wallinger is a painter, sculptor and video artist whose works explore a diverse range of subjects from the historic and mythic to the biographical and contemporary, layered with rich cultural references for the viewer to discover. The Underground has been the inspiration and location for two of his previous works, Angel (1997) and When Parallel Lines Meet at Infinity (1998/2001), filmed on the Circle line. He won the Turner Prize in 2007 for the installation State Britain, a meticulous recreation of Brian Haw’s 40-metre protest display at his one-man peace camp outside Parliament that was confiscated by the police the previous spring.
Labyrinth is published by Art/Books in association with Art on the Underground. Edited by Louise Coysh with contributions by Tamsin Dillon, Will Self, Mark Wallinger, Marina Warner and Christian Wolmar, and photographs by Thierry Bal. Design by Rose.