3am: Wonder, Paranoia And The Restless Night

10 May — 19 Jul 2014

The Exchange

Bleary-eyed sleepers woken up to be photographed, prowling coyotes caught on night cameras, and a helicopter spotlight searching the night time waters for a missing person. These are just some of the highlights of a new exhibition, 3am: wonder, paranoia and the restless night at The Exchange.

The 22 artists in 3am venture into the far reaches of the night – to the time when we are at our most adventurous and also at our most vulnerable. The exhibition demonstrates how this particular nocturnal hour has captured the imagination as the featured artists explore various themes – psychological, sociological, and natural – to capture something of the strangeness of the night and the extraordinary range of emotions, states and experiences it witnesses. There are photographs by Tom Wood of clubbers during the final stages of a long night out. In Anthony Goicolea’s video Code, torch-beams pierce the darkness of a wood, cast excitedly around by youngsters intoxicated by adrenaline. In Nightwatch, a video by Francis Alÿs, a fox is set loose in the National Portrait Gallery in London at night, and filmed by CCTV cameras as it roams from room to room.

Soon, the exhibition draws us into the strangeness of 3am – when time is distorted and the mind plays tricks. A film called Nocturne by Lucy Reynolds is of a lake in a park, with stars orbiting at speed overhead and the surface of the water pulsing and twitching inexplicably. 3am is also an hour to which misfits gravitate: a painting by Anj Smith shows a nocturnal passing-place where an extreme recluse would seem to have left mysterious traces.

It becomes menacing and hallucinatory with Marc Hulson’s pencil drawings of creatures that lurk in an ordinary home’s darkest corners. A life-size, blackened bronze sculpture by Nathan Mabry (shown above) is of a young boy carrying a grimacing monster on his shoulders.

On the other hand, 3am is the hour of ultimate freedoms. An installation by Sandra Cinto features galaxies of stars drawn on layers of unfurling cloth and some children’s spinning tops. In porcelain sculptures by Rachel Kneebone, tangled heaps of arcing limbs are charged with sexual urgency. Tonico Lemos Auad’s installation of suspended white lace orbs, called Sleepwalker, suggests a floating between-state.

Full list of artists: Francis Alÿs, Tonico Lemos Auad, Jordan Baseman, Sandra Cinto, Dorothy Cross, Dornith Doherty, Anthony Goicolea, Marc Hulson, Rachel Kneebone, Nathan Mabry, Michael Palm & Willi Dorner, Hirsch Perlman, Ed Pien, Lucy Reynolds, Sophy Rickett, Paul Rooney, Anj Smith, Fred Tomaselli, Danny Treacy, Bettina von Zwehl, Tom Wood.

3am: wonder, paranoia and the restless night is a touring exhibition from the Bluecoat curated by Angela Kingston. A 3am anthology, with illustrations of the artworks and writings about the night, is published by Liverpool University Press and available to purchase in the gallery bookshop.


The Exchange
Friday 9 May
19.30 – 21.00
Exhibition opening, free entry, pay bar available.
21.00 – Late
DJ set from Catrina Davies, playing Tropical Bass including Dancehall, Samba, Salsa and Afrobeat.
£4 entry after 21.00

Angela Kingston will lead a tour and open discussion around the themes of the exhibition.
Saturday 10th May 11.00
The Exchange. Free

Our companion books for 3am: wonder, paranoia and the restless night are The Milkman in The Night by Andrey Kurkov, recommended by The Wormery’s Justin Holland, and Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier.
The Exchange
18 June, 18.00 – 19.00
Free, but booking essential
Booking: EventBrite

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Venue: The Exchange
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Open: TUE - SAT, 10.00 - 17.00
Closed: SUN & MON

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