Commissions

The Wapping Project Commissions enables artists to produce new works with unrestrained ambition. We launched in 2016 with aim to provide artists with funding and support to make new artworks. The Wapping Project is about freedom to create with as few constraints as possible.

Our writing commissions are funded through the generosity of The Wapping Project’s members.

Eating Grass

Five poetic stories by artist Alia Syed relating to the times of day allocated for Muslim prayer.

The title is a reference to a quote, made by president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, who in response to India’s exploding of a nuclear device in the early 1970s, promised the Pakistani people that they too would have their own nuclear weapon at all cost, even if it meant “eating grass”.


Alia Syed is an artist filmmaker born in 1964 in Swansea, Wales. Syed lives between London and Glasgow. Syed has been making experimental films for over 25 years.

Syed’s recent works combine her interest in storytelling with a compelling presentation of history as visual narrative. Her unique approach sutures different subject positions in relation to culture, diaspora and location. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Jarman Award and her latest film On a wing and a prayer was shown at the 2016 London Film Festival.

Syed’s films have been shown at numerous institutions around the world including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012-13); 5th Moscow Biennale (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009); XV Sydney Biennale (2006); Hayward Gallery, London (2005); Tate Britain, London (2003); and Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (2002). She has also held several solo exhibitions at Talwar Gallery in New York and New Delhi.

Topologies of Air

Shona Illingworth, Topologies of Air, Blueprint series: 2 (detail),  2013. Supported by a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsbhagh Museum and Arts Centre in 2012.
Shona Illingworth, Topologies of Air, Blueprint series: 2 (detail), 2013. Supported by a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsbhagh Museum and Arts Centre in 2012.

Topologies of Air, a major new art commission by artist Shona Illingworth, will examine the impact of geopolitical, technological and climate change on airspace and will challenge the narrow terms by which it is currently represented and defined in law. Working with collaborator Professor Nick Grief (University of Kent) an expert in human rights, the legal status of nuclear weapons and air and space law, the project will explore the ecological, cultural, social, legal, military and historical perception and definition of airspace and propose the establishment of a new human right to protect the freedom to exist without physical or psychological threat from above.

Topologies of Air will bring into dialogue representations from wide and diverse areas of expertise such as international law, including air and space law; human rights; earth and life sciences; technology; neuropsychology; cognitive neuroscience; cultural studies; sociology; art; architecture; politics; theology; philosophy; environmental studies and economics, with lived experience and NGOs, in a unique integration between art practice and the legal preparation for the creation of a new human right. Within a rapidly changing world, this major new commission will present a dynamic and challenging series of artworks, alive to the complex and changing parameters and contexts involved in making the case for this new and vital human right.

Early research for Topologies of Air was undertaken by Illingworth on a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 2012.


Shona Illingworth is a Danish Scottish artist who works across a range of media including video, sound, photography and drawing. She is known for her immersive video and multi-channel sound installations, and evocative, research-led practice in which she explores the dynamic processes of memory, cultural erasure and construction of histories in situations of social tension and trauma. Her work has been exhibited internationally, with shows at the Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, FACT, Liverpool, UNSW Galleries, Sydney and the Wellcome Collection, London. She has received high profile commissions from Film and Video Umbrella, the Hayward Gallery, London and Channel 4 Television. Upcoming exhibitions include Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, and Imperial War Museum, London, and a book on her recent work will be published in 2017.


Nick Grief is a professor in Kent Law School and a barrister practising from Doughty Street Chambers. He specialises in international law and human rights. A Kent graduate with a PhD on public international law in the airspace of the high seas, he taught at the University of Exeter and Bournemouth University before returning to the University of Kent in 2010. He was a member of the legal team which recently represented the Marshall Islands in the International Court of Justice in cases against India, Pakistan and the UK concerning the obligation to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament. The team was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in the ICJ.

Passage

A new piece by Polish born writer Agnieszka Studzinska for The Wapping Project Commissions, November 2016


Agnieszka Studzinska has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. Her first debut collection, Snow Calling was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection, What Things Are is published by Eyewear (2014). She is currently working on her third collection of poetry as well as her PhD at Royal Holloway; ‘The house a shelter for imaginings” – The Poetics of Literary Home-Making in Poetry: Home in Poetry and Poetry as Home.

Andrea Luka Zimmerman

ERASE AND FORGET – A Feature Documentary

The Wapping Project is supporting Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s latest feature length documentary film – an intimate portrait and expansive exploration of human conscience, war and the limits of deniability. The film will premiere at Berlinale in February 2017 – more in our news section.

The majority of lives are lived in history. There are, however, a few lives that make history. If that history is dark, occupying the shadowlands and margins of what is known or acceptable, then the price of that making can be high, very high indeed…

Lt. Col. James Gordon ‘Bo’ Gritz – “the American Soldier” for the Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnam War – is one of the most decorated combatants in US history. The inspiration for Rambo, the A-Team’s Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith and Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, Gritz was at the heart of the American military and foreign policy – both overt and covert – from the Bay of Pigs to Afghanistan.


Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist and filmmaker based in London. Zimmerman grew up on a large council estate and left school at 16. After coming to London in 1991, she attended Central St. Martins. She made two feature length documentaries Estate, a Reverie (2015), and Taskafa, Stories of the Street (2013). Zimmerman won the Artangel Open Award for her collaborative feature drama Cycle (2017) with Adrian Jackson (Cardboard Citizens).

Transition, Transformation and Transience

For the launch of The Wapping Project Commissions, we present three new works by Sophie Mayer, Alice Butler and Lavinia Greenlaw as part of a publication Transition, Transformation and Transience.

Sophie Mayer
Line of Visible Light

Alice Butler
The Peach Slip

Lavinia Greenlaw
A poet’s difficulty with words


Sophie Mayer is the author of several poetry collections, most recently, (O) (Arc, 2015) and kaolin (Lark Books, 2015), and of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (IB Tauris, 2015). Her current project is Disturbing Words.

Alice Butler is a writer based in London and a PhD student in Art History & Visual Studies at the University of Manchester. She is working on women’s experimental writing and feminist performance, and her work has been published in frieze, Cabinet and Art Monthly.

Lavinia Greenlaw has published five collections of poetry, most recently A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde. Her other works include The Importance of Music to Girls and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland. Audio Obscura, her immersive soundwork for Artangel won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award. Her first short film, The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, is released this autumn.