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Founded by Art Impresario Joshua Compston in 1991, the East Wing Biennial returns to promote contemporary art within The Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House in early 2016. The 18 month exhibition Artificial Realities, features works by 31 international artists, including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Jacob Hashimoto, Rachel Whiteread, Jim Lambie and Laure Prouvost.

Artificial Realities takes the viewer through the spaces of the Courtauld Institute, where the works of art gesture towards the transition from the real to illusion, truth to fiction, and the ambiguous borders between the two. The works themselves are experienced through the transitional spaces and minor rooms of the Courtauld, revealing traces and layers of perception by interfering with the daily experience of the Institute’s inhabitants, and confronting the viewer with the uncanny.

The opening of Artificial Realities is a special occasion for The Courtauld Institute: 2016 marks the 25th year since the inauguration of the East Wing Biennial in 1991. The concept of East Wing stems from the individual vision of then-student Joshua Compston, who was keen to provide the walls of the Courtauld with more examples of “living art”. Opening on 27 January 1991, the exhibition presented the works by Gilbert and George, Howard Hodgkin and Damien Hirst, among others.
While the Courtauld is famed for its inimitable collection of Impressionist works, the East Wing Biennial is renowned for complementing this magnificent collection with a host of established and emerging living artists. The setting of the exhibition within the working Institute of Art in the East Wing of Somerset House, acts to emphasise the exhibition theme. 

The experience of walking through the narrow paths, confined corridors and spiralling staircases of the Courtauld takes on a particular meaning as each space is allocated a compartmentalized subtheme, and falls within the concept of physical, as well as conceptual uncertainty. Making our way up the four intricate stories of the Courtauld, we find ourselves discovering peculiar excavations, scratching the multiple surfaces of the Institute’s walls, continuously reminding us that reality must be grasped in layers.  

As a means of linking the disparate, mazelike character of the Courtauld Institute, Alan Chandler, Helen Howard and Gilles Retsin have come together to employ a process of stratigraphy. They have created a number of site-specific mini-excavations directly into the physical fabric of the walls, excavating layers of paint, mortar, and memory. This phenomenological interplay of real and imagined is expressed through various media: including the large scale installations of Megan Geckler, Marco Maggi, and Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva;
the sculptures of Gabriel Kuri and Ignacio Valdes; a video from Sam Gough Yates; as well as a novel site-specific scent installation by the Perfume Curator Anastasia Brozler.

At the request of the artist Leon Krige, both '3606-Roma-Termini-Informal-T' and '3354-Roma-Vatican-Arches-T' were put forward for silent auction during the opening weekend, the proceeds from to be given to the migrant crisis appeal.



 Clive Barker  Leon Krige
 Amina Benbouchta     Emmanuelle Leblanc
 Anastasia Brozler  Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski
 Daniel Buren  Marco Maggi
 Alan Chandler    Pau Marinello
 Edmund du Waal    Filippo Minelli
 Tracey Emin  Irene Montemurro
 Falcone  Laure Prouvost
 Adrian Fisk  Oliver Schwarzwald
 Megan Geckler    Yonatan Vinitsky
 Ignacio Valdes  Rebecca Ward
 Samuel Gough-Yates  Rachel Whiteread
 Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva  Chris Kenny 
 Jacob Hashimoto    Gabriel Kuri
 Paul Hawdon