Neil Rollinson (poet), Berenika Boberska (architect), Ilaria Mazzoleni (architect, researcher), Louise Clarke (artist), Sarah Gillett (artist), Dominique Golden (video artist), Zoe Hodgson (artist)
Four artists, two architects and a poet ‐ from London and Los Angeles:
Feral structures and actions,
hairy buildings, high‐tech thickets, ruffles and fur ‐
growing overnight and
in inappropriate places,
‐ radical enchantments of space
Arena 1 Gallery is pleased to present “Cautionary Tales – Feral Structures” a group exhibition that explores some very physical consequences of a particular sort of story. The projects by artists and architects from London and Los Angeles use transformational strategies found in fairy‐tales as tools for interventions in the real world – to arrive at new and unexpected proposals. A sub‐species of fairy‐tales, cautionary tales are darker, more dangerous and are meant to warn us against acts of transgression. These are tales about situations that go beyond some boundary and unsettle the status quo. But what would happen if we logically follow through the effects of these stories? Their accumulative repercussions radically transform space – both physical and social/political. Buildings start being unreasonable; new uses are invented; cities are laid fallow; high‐rises sprout hair‐like structures, overgrow with thickets. The resulting feral structures and propositions rarely adopt the easiest structural solution – they are too sensuous, too coquettish even, for that.
Berenika Boberska has constructed a 1:1 scale prototype for a feral structure growing out of a high‐rise façade is a strategy for structures that might colonize the generic housing blocks, a solution to do with a new collective space and with solar collection devices. But it begins as a consequence of a love story gone awry ‐ about a woman who lives there, her (unreasonable) actions which begin to alter the facade.
Louise Clarke’s shed is perched on top of the partition walls in the exhibition space. Furtive, it looks out over the space like something which has escaped from a more sensible, domestic setting. Clumsily balanced like a remnant thrown from a tornado, is this a place of work, or illicit liaison? Unlike most architecture it is not meant to be an easy place to occupy. One climbs up into it. Its walls are made of hair, one may be tempted to stroke it – but at a risk…
Zoe Hodgeson presents us with an eerie vision: in the middle of a crystalline salt desert stands a hotel made entirely of salt. Rather than being constructed, this structure seems to have grown out of its surroundings, and the cone‐like roofs echo the piles of salt that the local people extract to sell. Her floor to ceiling projection of the “Salt Hotel “ is assembled form several overhead projections. The building has an unsettling quality and materiality, akin to that found in films of Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker) and Frantisek Vlacil (Marketa Lazarova).
Dominique Golden’s hair is alive in her video piece, although the artist is asleep. At the dead of the night, she is dragged from her bed by the curling tendrils which take on spidery forms as they pull her through a dark house. The accompanying “hairy drawings” offer images of women growing thick coats of glossy hair as they abandon their primness, gazing out at us in suggestive primal poses that are more animal‐like than human.
Sarah Gillett’s large drawings are fleeing the scene, afraid and trepidatious at what may be about to occur. Her secretive colony of The Lays are half‐creatures inhabiting Northland, a distant place located beyond the borders of the known world and overseen by an island caretaker Miss Grimbaldeston. The artist’s map of the island is as obsessively intricate and detailed as a childhood memory; a land of volcanoes and ice, and unceasingly restless creatures.
Ilaria Mazzoleni arrives at striking looking designs for inhabitable structures in extreme landscapes of the north, but she does this from the opposite side ‐ through purely scientific research into physiological adaptation in animals. Half buried in the snow, huddled together, their high‐tech skin composed of re‐ orientable fur‐like glass tubes, they look and behave like creatures one may encounter in a futuristic folk‐ tale.
Neil Rollinson is a frank and subversive poet, a deft cartographer of the sensual world. His work, in its way, offers a hard commentary on this project.
A limited‐edition publication will accompany the exhibition, which, apart from the projects, will include essays by invited experts about ideas explored in the show.