TfL presents new Crossrail Art Programme
Above: St Giles Square by the remodelled Centre Point looking towards the Elizabeth Line station entrance by Tottenham Court Road and St Martin's Lane
A thought-provoking new artwork that celebrates the vibrant culture of Soho will launch on 1 February at Tottenham Court Road station. The artwork, by award-winning artist Douglas Gordon, will be presented by Transport for London (TfL) and sponsors Almacantar, the City of London Corporation and Derwent London.
Gordon's undergroundoverheard is one of several artworks commissioned by Crossrail Art Programme for the Elizabeth line, the largest collaborative public art commissioning process in a generation. It will sit alongside works including Chantal Joffe's A Sunday Afternoon in Whitechapel at Whitechapel station and Conrad Shawcross' Manifold (Major Third) 5:4 at Liverpool Street station. Situated in the Dean Street entrance to the Elizabeth line at Tottenham Court Road station, Gordon's new artwork comprises a video on a large screen seen by thousands of customers each day as they descend the escalators to the platforms.
The looped video builds on Gordon's renowned text-based artworks that use short statements to make the viewer or listener speculate, including "I forgive you," "Nothing will ever be the same" and "It's better to know." Undergroundoverheard puts these texts into video format for the first time, with translations into many of the most spoken languages of the people who make London the dynamic, multicultural city that it is, reflecting the vibrancy of Soho and the international audiences that pass through the area on the Elizabeth line.
The texts appear and disappear on the screen, travelling through the space from top to bottom and side to side, reflecting the transience of people travelling. Conceived from the late 1980s through to the present, the deceptively simple yet emotionally charged statements were previously installed onto architecture such as museum walls or communicated via mail and telephone.
The public commission will be unveiled alongside a new solo exhibition of the artist's work near the station at Gagosian gallery, Grosvenor Hill, London. 'All I need is a little bit of everything' features numerous text works, many also translated for the first time into multiple languages, and the encyclopaedic installation Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now... (1999-).
Undergroundoverheard is lead-funded by property development company Almacantar and the City of London Corporation, and co-funded by property investment and development business Derwent London.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground at TfL, said: "The launch of undergroundoverheard marks a major moment for Douglas Gordon, with his text works compiled into a dynamic video artwork for the first time. It is an exciting moment for Tottenham Court Road station, with an artwork that celebrates the breadth of global cultures in the area the station serves. These cryptic, open-ended statements will make customers from all backgrounds pause for thought, taking them on a reflective, thoughtful journey in their minds as they travel on the renowned Elizabeth line."
Chair of Crossrail Arts Foundation, Michael Cassidy said: "Celebrating the vibrant tapestry of London's cultural mosaic, the City of London Corporation proudly supports Douglas Gordon's video installation, 'undergroundoverheard,' as part of the Crossrail Art Programme. We are honoured to contribute to funding this landmark public art initiative, enriching the urban experience and fostering contemplation among travellers from every corner of the globe."
Kathrin Hersel, Executive Director at Almacantar said: "Undergroundoverheard is a brilliant addition to one of London's most dynamic stations, which is now seeing higher visitor numbers than most other West End stations. It epitomises the multitude of cultures that call London home, and brings us together by welcoming everyone to this new vibrant centre of the city. We spend a lot of time rushing around and I hope this artwork encourages us to slow down, take a look around and listen."
Derwent London said: "Derwent London is delighted to support Douglas Gordon's artwork Undergroundoverhead which celebrates London's diverse and multicultural heritage, and sits alongside the above ground artwork at Soho Place."
Infinite Accumulation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will be the final piece of the Crossrail Art Programme, set to be installed later this year outside the Elizabeth line Liverpool Street station eastern ticket hall at Broadgate.
More than 280 million journeys have been made on the Elizabeth line since it opened in May 2022. Tottenham Court Road station has seen a significant increase in numbers of customers since this date, with daily entries and exits frequently exceeding 200,000 at the end of 2023 with entries and exits peaking at more than 269,000 on Saturday 1 July 2023.
People will be able to enjoy more artwork while travelling in London as six new artworks are set to launch on the Tube network this year as part of the Art on the Underground programme. This includes a series of artworks in the rotunda at Heathrow Terminal 4 Underground station in June by British artist and photographer Joy Gregory, a new sound work by Joe Namy with the Mayor of London's Culture and Community Spaces at Risk programme in July, and a permanent mosaic work at historic St James's Park station by artist duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings.