May 31st, 2006
Around the World in 80 Days

Fiona Macdonald

‘Argentina keeps getting knocked out of shape, and we’ve lost Hawaii,’ says a gallery worker at the ICA. The cause of such geographical upheaval is Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum, who has made a world map out of glass marbles on the floor of the ICA for Around The World In 80 Days. The exhibition, held jointly with the South London Gallery, features 19 artists responding to Jules Verne’s 1872 book.

Hatuom’s map works because it isn’t cordoned off: visitors wander among the marbles, occasionally losing their footing or kicking a continent into a different border. Built into the artwork is the possibility of shifting contours, and how fragile boundaries can be.

The political nature of national identities is explored in other artists’ works – notably Alexandre da Cunha’s row of flags made from souvenir beach towels and Yinka Shonibare’s man in Victorian period dress made from an African pattern (pictured) – but many pieces focus on time as much as place.

Zineb Sedira plays with time in her footage of a coastal road in Algiers. Some parts are sped up, creating the feeling that the landscape is moving past us, while others are shown in slow motion. It mimics the way we choose to remember places; the object of our focus frozen while everything else becomes a background blur.

The South London Gallery’s space is dominated by the sound of a video piece by Joao Penalva. In a pitch black room, it recreates the experience of a boy under his duvet imagining distant journeys on a three-masted ship, a reminder that often the best travel is done in the mind.

Until Jul 16, ICA, The Mall SW1, daily noon to 7.30pm, £1.50 to £2.50, £1 to £1.50 concs, mems free. Tel: 020 7930 3647.
Tube: Charing Cross/Piccadilly Circus
South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Road SE5, Tue to Sun noon to 6pm, free. Tel: 020 7703 6120.
Tube: Oval then 36 bus