The ICA celebrates 75 years of Art and Counter Culture

5 Minute Read
Art & Culture
Written by Grace Morton

London’s home of radical artistic influence, the ICA, presents its 75th Anniversary party, P-R-E-S-E-N-T, on 1 February. Based in The Mall near Trafalgar Square, The Institute of Contemporary Arts offers a multi-sensory experience hosted by London’s up and coming experimental DJs and creatives to celebrate the ICA’s significance.

Being the centre of London’s counter-culture, the line-up includes some of London’s more provocative names.

Director of the ICA, Bengi Ünsal describes the significance of the line-up:

“ICA has a history of supporting practices that sit between dominant forms. To celebrate our 75th anniversary we bring together a line-up that reflects an experimental approach to form, genre and presentation through an emotive audio-visual experience that encourages people to listen and dance.


Sons of Simeon kicks off the night in the ICA Theatre with a one-off dub influenced live set, followed by an experimental audio-visual show by SKY H1 and Mika Oki. In the Lower Gallery COLD brings a poetic and reflective set whose influences range from indie to grime. Nexcyia performs a new live A/V set of experimental sound, followed by Iceboy Violet’s dark emotive electronics and raw vocals, and Pxssy Palace’s Nadine Noor rounds off the anniversary party with a DJ set and holds the floor for dancing into the early hours.”

This eclectic fusion of artists will soundtrack the night from the nostalgic ambience of SKY H1 & Mika Oki’s s A/V live show to Nadine Noor’s DJ set creating a space to celebrate queerness and the legacy of PXSSY Palace.


"ICA has a history of supporting practices that sit between dominant forms."


Why is the celebration of the ICA so important?

The answer lies deeply rooted within the organisations rich cultural history. Founded in 1946 as a counter-space to the esteemed RA, it has been the ICA’s duty ever since to combat the mainstream and create a platform for future artists, musicians and writers who traverse against the current.

Back in the days of drugs, sexuality and political demonstration, the ICA screened Yoko Ono’s controversial film Bottoms in the mid 60s. Too scandalous to be shown at the Royal Albert Hall, Ono’s project, which illustrated the artistic relevance of the female body, became a legacy at the ICA.

In 1976 UK performance art group COUM Transmissions brought their exibition Prostitution to the ICA. The exhibition caused walkouts, made headlines, inspired a debate in the House of Commons, and is still regarded as one of the most controversial shows in both the ICA’s history and that of British contemporary art. COUM Transmissions was started by Genesis P-Orridge in Hull, UK and involved a cast of artistic collaborators, including performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Yoko Ono and Cosey Fanni Tutti merely paved the way for the ICA’s arguably most notable event: Einsturzende Neubauten’s maniacal chainsaw massacre of 1984. Whilst not quite a slasher film, West Berlin’s experimental indie group did drill through the stage during their performance, creating their very own warzone equipped with petrol, smoke and heavy machinery. Nothing appears to be able to capture the anarchistic vision of the ICA better than Einsturzende Neubauten’s nightmarish riot.

With the 75th year commencing, it is essential to commemorate the commitment the ICA has had to new generations of buzzing artists kicking back against mainstream media. Join the ICA’s biggest blowout yet.

Buy tickets HERE.