Learning In conversation
An Evening with Es Devlin
Es Devlin is an artist, stage sculptor, set designer and choreographer of light who often experiments with new technologies in her multi-faceted work, creating mesmerising, immersive, illuminated, kinetic forms and spaces. Straddling the fields of art, opera, dance, theatre, fashion and music, her designs have filled millions of people with wonder – from the London 2012 ceremony to the 2022 Super Bowl half-time show with Dr Dre and Kendrick Lamar, and contemplative installations speculating on the relationship between humankind and the planet.
In this conversation, Devlin will reflect on the breadth of her output and the making of her new book An Atlas of Es Devlin, and discuss the importance of collective experience and what she describes as ‘the shared now’. 'An Atlas of Es Devlin' charts the expansion of scale and intention in her practice, from teenage drawings and paintings, designs for theatre, opera, stadium concerts and ceremonies, to her current engagement with the cultural response to the climate and civilisational crises. Devlin’s work is at once deeply personal and inherently collective. She views the audience as a temporary society and encourages profound cognitive shifts by inviting public participation in communal choral works.
Devlin’s protean work is rooted in a lifelong practice of reading and drawing. From sketches in the margins of texts, be they poetry, drama, song lyrics, opera libretti, climate reports or endangered species lists, emerge the technically advanced, collectively imagined universes for which she is globally renowned.
Devlin creates large-scale sculptural installations that combine light, music and language. Her work is rooted in a lifelong practice of reading and drawing, from the plays, song lyrics and opera libretti which have informed her performance sculptures, to the works of fiction, poetry, geo-philosophy, economics, biology and climate science that have formed the foundation of her art and activism. She views audiences as temporary societies and encourages profound cognitive shifts through public participation.
Marlow is Chief Executive, Director of the Design Museum in London. Formerly Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts and Director of Exhibitions at White Cube. Marlow sits on the Board of Trustees for the Imperial War Museum was awarded an OBE in 2019. Marlow has been involved in the contemporary art world as a curator, writer and broadcaster and has worked with some of the most important artists of our time to deliver a range programmes to bring a commitment to diverse exhibitions.
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Background image: 'Forest of Us' by Es Devlin photographed by Andrea Mora.