Circa 2020: London-based public art project to screen Ai Weiwei’s work everyday for a month on Europe’s largest billboard

Method 26th Sep, 2020

Europe’s largest billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus is being converted into a new site for digital art by a new innovative platform called CIRCA. Starting from 1st October, every evening at 20:20 GMT, the billboard will take a break from playing advertisements for two minutes to dedicate time to art. Each month a different artist will be commissioned to present their work on the giant canvas that takes into consideration our life in this year of unprecedented change, circa 2020. 

The first artist to occupy this two-minute daily slot is Ai Weiwei, the world renowned Chinese political artist known for his dissident art. Weiwei’s inaugural CIRCA commission, a 60 minute episodic narrative about his art and activism, will be played in two-minute sections every evening throughout the month of October.

The programme for November is curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, the director of The Showroom Gallery who has commissioned new work from the Barcelona-based artist Daniela Ortiz who explores concepts of nationality, racialization, social class and gender and the interdisciplinary artist Cauleen Smith, whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. In December, British artist Eddie Peake will take over the space to keep the public engaged in the bleak winter time. 

CIRCA is the brainchild of the artist Josef O’Connor, who believes that in our current state of emergency, art can act as a force for good and contribute towards re-shaping our fast changing world. A crossroad for individual and collective histories, this digital canvas provides the perfect setting for artists to explore the concept of time, by establishing a new meeting point for people to stop, look-up and feel inspired in the heart of London.

The programmes will not only be available for live audiences to view but also streamed online on the website CIRCA.ART. This will enable participating artists to upload supporting content as well as allow live audiences the opportunity to view the works digitally for a full audio-visual immersion in the works being shown. 

Limited edition works by participating artists will be on sale on the website to fundraise for a range of charities supporting the UK cultural sector during the pandemic. For the launch, Ai has created a £100 print, available only in October. 

Apart from showcasing works by imminent artists, CIRCA has already started “Class of 2020” which is dedicated to every art student in the UK who due to Covid were denied the highlight of a degree show. Co-curated by Aindrea Emelife and Jody Mulvey, it provides an opportunity to 26 selected art graduates to present their works for 2 minutes on the colossal canvas. Together they are a cross-section of new artistic talent in the mediums of digital art, painting, sculpture, architecture, moving image and performance. 

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Photo credits: Marcus Peel

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