As a metaphor for our current situation, 3 o'clock in the morning might represent the current zeitgeist: at this dread hour there's doubt that the day will ever come, a sense of reaching the nadir, of being in a dark place. The mind falters and slides. It's a time for nightmares, ghouls and nocturnal creatures, of loneliness and death - the shadow side of our daylight existence. But 3 a.m. is also a time for refuge and release, for dreams and adventure, creativity and imagination.
In this exhibition, curated by Angela Kingston, over 20 UK and international artists explore various themes related to 3 a.m. - psychological, sociological, natural and astronomical - to capture something of the strangeness of the night and the extraordinary range of emotions, states and experiences it witnesses.
In its compelling mix of paintings, drawings, videos, sound works, photographs and sculptures, the exhibition reveals bleary-eyed sleepers woken up to be photographed, prowling coyotes caught on specialist digital cameras, smartly dressed women urinating while standing up in the most unlikely of locations, and a helicopter spotlight searching the night time waters for a missing person. Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto will create a new installation for the Vide space, made during a short residency.
The full artist list is:
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
The exhibition is accompanied by nocturnally themed events and an illustrated book published with Liverpool University Press, combining images with texts by writers, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Robert Macfarlane, who have journeyed into the far night, and including a new short story by Ailsa Cox.
'3 am: wonder, paranoia and the restless night' is at The Bluecoat from 28 September to 24 November 2013 before touring to Chapter (Cardiff), The Exchange (Penzance) and Ferens Art Gallery (Hull).