Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall 03-06 05/2017.
Is it a matter of ownership or access? Does art have the power to interrogate these questions?
DoingItInPublic aims to raise awareness, contribute to, and prompt a discussion about the post-industrial society. The focus is a specific socio-economic and geographical context around Vauxhall and Nine Elms, the biggest development site in Europe, and will question what ‘public art’ can be. The concept of public art is changing and our aim is to bring a version of it into the gallery. DoingItInPublic will conceptually engage with what is public and private in a time when public space in London is rapidly diminishing. Therefore, exhibiting an artist’s work inside a public gallery is challenging what public art can be.
Central to DoingItInPublic are works by two artists, Paloma Proudfoot and Jakob Rowlinson, newly commissioned by the Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art programme. Their performative work will be presented at Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall – an oasis within an increasing jungle of privatised spaces – alongside a panel discussion between curator and writer Jes Fernie; architect Liza Fior; and Helen Nisbet, Curatorial Fellow at Cubitt Gallery.
belittle, Paloma Proudfoot.
Against the rigid order of the market rhythms, what emerges as by-products in the peripheries, seams and off-times?
Every morning flowers discarded from the market will be
brought to the gallery. Through performance with artist and choreographer Aniela Piasecka, they will be composed together with Proudfoot’s ceramic sculpture and removed by the end of each day. Putting out for display and packing down will become a metaphor for the wider Nine Elms development, with its persistent focus on demolishing and rebuilding. Looking historically at the original Covent Garden market, the performances will also look to evoke the alternative culture that thrived in the pubs that opened doors at 6am; the cafes selling breakfasts at midnight to the traders alongside clubbed out revellers, and the debauchery the traders became infamous for.
The Vauxhalla Lecture Series (or how the People’s Republic of Vauxhalla gained its name), Jakob Rowlinson.
Can research be public art?
What intrigues Rowlinson most about Nine Elms is the various ways institutions and developers are keen to inscribe the area with a certain local history. In a similar way, he will blur the lines of fact, truth and fiction through both an online platform and a performative lecture, employing improvisation and spontaneous physical decision-making during every stage of the process. Rowlinson’s work does not only challenge the very notion of ‘public art’, but also seeks to question how vested interests go about defining a whole area, ‘cherry picking’ aspects of local history to suit their agendas. All of these questions warrant an explorative and research based practice to unsettle a situation, disrupt and occupy the everyday.
The notion of public art is in constant flux and our aim is to create a common ground through a panel discussion between curator and writer Jes Fernie; architect Liza Fior; and curator Helen Nisbet to focus on the relevant questions on the subject while referencing the Nine Elms area.
What is it to be public in a context of rapid privatisation? Is public a matter of ownership or access?
What does it mean to inject culture in a post-industrial area to replace its pre-memory?
How culture has become a selling point and a tool to generate income?
What kind of power public art has?
Which forms may public art take to interrogate these questions?
About the panel:
Jes Fernie is an independent curator and writer. She works with galleries, architectural practices and public realm organisations on public programmes, commissioning schemes, exhibitions and residency projects across the UK and internationally. Working primarily beyond gallery walls, she is interested in an expansive idea of contemporary artistic practice, which encompasses dialogue, research, engagement and serendipity. Fernie is a member of many art commissioning selection panels and has worked with organisations including Firstsite, RIBA, Focal Point Gallery, Tate, Peer, Serpentine Gallery, Olympic Delivery Authority, St Paul's Cathedral, Central St Martins, University of Essex, Lund Cathedral and the RCA. Some of her projects and public programmes are: Flood House, History Rising, Future Perfect, Creation From Catastrophe, and Archive of Destruction, among others.
Helen Nisbet is Curatorial Fellow at multi-layered and independent organisation Cubitt Gallery since January 2017; and co-founder with Kay Watson of Hi Barbara, an evolving project to explore the potential of collaboration and collective practice in curatorial and visual art production. She is also founder and organiser of Shetland Night in London, an annual event celebrating and bringing people together through the food and culture of Shetland since 2012. Previously Nisbet was Commissions Manager at the Arts Council Collection; Head Curator of the 2016 contemporary art festival Open Source in East London; and Art Consultant at the Contemporary Art Society, among others.
Specialist in public realm architecture and art, Liza Fior is Founding Partner of muf, a London-based practice whose work negotiates between the built and social fabric, between public and private. Since 1994 muf architecture/art has established a reputation for pioneering and innovative projects that address the social, spatial and economic infrastructures of the public realm. Their philosophy is driven by an ambition to realise the potential pleasures that exist at the intersection between the lived and the built. The work of muf has been internationally recognised, being awarded the 2008 European Prize for Public Space (a first for the UK) for a new ‘town square’ for Barking, East London. Among other projects, muf authored Villa Frankenstein, the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2010, and explored an alternative legacy for London’s Olympic site, building on Fior’s role as an LDA design advisor. Through her practice, Fior deals with ideas of access, experience, navigation, ownership, and occupation. She recently taught at Yale University's School of Architecture as visiting professor, and is now Lecturer at Central Saint Martins as part of the studio and seminar teaching team on the MA Architecture: Cities and Innovation.
DoingItInPublic was programmed by Curating Contemporary Art in partnership with the Sculpture Programme at the Royal College of Art and Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall.
Curatorial team: Isabel Blanco-Fernández, Canan Batur, Joss Heierli, Carolina Lio, Filip Zezovski Lind. Graduate Project tutor: Michaela Crimmin.