Somerset House Studios

Project O: Saved

21 Sep – 04 Jan 2019
New Wing

Somerset House Studios residents Project O present a new video artwork considering Somerset House’s historical connection to the British Royal Navy.

For eighty years from the end of the eighteenth century the Navy’s administrative offices occupied the building, a time when its activities were instrumental in the securing and ruling of an empire. In this new commission by Somerset House Studios, Project O asks questions of choice, inevitability, movement, defiance and surrender that arise in relation to thoughts about water -  the waves will always rule us.

The Navy Board, the administrative function of the Royal Navy was based in South Wing through most of the 19th century, helping secure one the largest empires the world has ever seen. In this period, the Navy played a significant (and contentious) role in the abolition of the slave trade. Until the Embankment was built, Somerset House was accessible directly by boat for naval personnel through what is now the Embankment arch. New Wing was an extension and remodelling by James Pennethorne of Admiralty residences, completed in 1856.

Concept, choreography & performance Project O (Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamila Johnson-Small)
Animation Jack Barraclough
Camera Katarzyna Perlak
Sound Verity Susman