Monster Chetwynd: Free Energy (The Life of Nikola Tesla)

Artist Monster Chetwynd is making a new work which explores the extraordinary life of inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla [1856–1943].

Free Energy (The Life of Nikola Tesla), will juxtapose Tesla’s dream to provide the world with free energy with his ‘World Wireless System’ and his well-known rivalry with Thomas Edison with multiple fictional stories, playing with notions of truth and power. This commission is part of Studio Voltaire elsewhere. 

Inhabiting both digital as well as physical spaces, and working through a period of collaborative production, the artist will produce a series of miniature theatre boxes with side wings, backdrops, cut-out figures and elaborate costumes alongside a group of collaborators. A series of these portable miniature dioramas will form the basis of a performance to camera which will culminate in a new film work and what we hope will be a live performance, to be premiered at Studio Voltaire in Autumn 2021. 

Chetwynd has become internationally renowned for her carnivalesque performances, which share elements of the bawdy anarchy of sixteenth–century wandering troupes, foregrounding key moments from art history and cultural production.

This new commission forms part of Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a series of offsite commissions while Studio Voltaire undertakes a major capital project. Studio Voltaire has a long–standing collaborative relationship with the artist having worked together on multiple projects since 2005, including The Walk to Dover (2005), Listen Up! and Hermitos Children 2 (both 2014).

Supported by Mila Charitable Organisation and Arts Council England. 

About Monster Chetwynd

Monster Chetwynd (b. 1973, London) is based in Zurich, Switzerland. Solo exhibitions and performances include De Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands (2019), Villa Arson, Nice, France (2019), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy (2018); CCA Glasgow (2016); Bergen Assembly, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2016); Nottingham Contemporary (2014); Studio Voltaire, London (2014, 2005) and the New Museum, New York (2011–12).  Chetwynd was the first ever performance artist to be nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012. The artist is represented by Sadie Coles HQ, London; Massimo de Carlo, Milan/London and Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich.

About Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Taking place in locations across London, Studio Voltaire elsewhere is a site—specific programme whilst our permanent home in Clapham is closed to the public whilst undergoing a transformative £2.8 million redevelopment.

Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd are creating new work for this series. Each artist has a special relationship with Studio Voltaire and this programme celebrates a number of important commissions in our institution’s history, reflecting our track record of supporting artists at key stages in their careers.

Image credit

Monster Chetwynd, Performance view, Jesus and Barabbas, Cricoteka, Krakow, Poland, 23rd November 2014. Copyright Monster Chetwynd, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

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