Prem Sahib

Text by
Danny Calvi
Photography by
Mark Blower

It’s Frieze Week in London, and BUTT’s placing all bets on Prem Sahib, not that it’s a competition or anything. It’s just that his show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, full of alluring surfaces and innuendos, is such a fascinating deconstruction of gay space, while his more petit, adjunct show at Southard Reid confirms Prem’s status as this season’s go-to guy for conceptual art.

The ICA show, ‘Side On’, is all glistening bathhouse tiles and steamy windows — or are they two-way mirrors? The exhibition maps out various public and private pleasure nests, and rummages through the evidence as if from a nightclub’s lost and found. Viewers are invited to cruise dark corridors, and get all scandalized by the telltale white powder and makeup traces. Every room anally arranged with a touch of Dada glee.

Over at Southard Reid (located down a tiny back alley in Soho, the show called ‘End Up’ was announced in local gay rags Boyz and QX) Prem has built a temporary monument to shuttered gay bars, which are dropping like flies in his hometown of London, by the way. The black bench constructions lining the gallery are perfectly apt for an underwear party, with flesh-colored paper towel holder ready-mades on hand for man-sized wiping. It’s like the set of a Triga video, just before the action gets going.

Catch Prem Sahib this Friday, 16 October 2015 as part of the Can Artists Still Afford to Live in London? panel at the Frieze Art Fair. Side On, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall in London SW1Y 5AH, runs through 15 November 2015. Check the ICA website for various special events to coincide with the show. End Up at Southard Reid, 7 Royalty Mews in Soho, London W1D 3AS, runs through 14 November 2015.

Published on 14 October 2015