Show: White Cube Longing. Antonia Low.
Tell: “There is this old church in Salford that has been through many architectural changes; it is full of nooks and crannies. To encounter my spatial intervention, visitors will walk past the church hall, the vicar’s study and enter the basement. There, the functional reality of the church’s kitchen is transformed into a “white cube” with a single cupboard remaining. Seen through the kitchen’s hatch, staged as a diorama, the viewer encounters a foreign world of minimal function removed from its surroundings.
“Clearly I was inspired in the making this work by the church itself. It is a heavily loaded space, but also one of disregarded architecture within which it is very difficult prepare for an exhibition. I usually examine seemingly perfect exhibition spaces for any disrupting functional applications, such as cables, plugs, switches, fuse boxes and light tracks, high-lighting these devices and making them the sculptural subjects of my art work.
“In this church, so many different things were going on everywhere – an intriguing detail here, a curious part there. It would have been impossible to highlight just one thing. That made me do the opposite of what I had created before: I transferred the “white cube” exhibition space to an overloaded everyday space – I built a perfect space for one single detail in the basement, a random cupboard in the former kitchen.
“Whilst setting-up the work we also went through the church’s rooms and furniture and I saw this drawing from the fifties or sixties. It shows the immaculate service hall, full of chairs in perfect order, high ceilings, tidy and bright. This visionary image of the perfect state of the church, seen from my distant viewpoint of a future time had a similar tone to my impossible perfect white space. The image of the service hall, compared to the actual state the church it is now in, opens up this gap between the real course of time and an imagined course of time.
“The course of events never leads to the imagined state the architecture might have otherwise been in. In the same way the physical and chemical reactions of materials cannot construct a perfect space. It seems as if something always fails and somehow this relates to the romantic idea of the incomplete. It is not the claim to a definitive form that brings art to life but, according to 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Schlegel, “that it is in a state of eternal becoming, never to be completed.”
“As I’ve been working on the installation I was thinking of changing the title of my work from White Cube Longing over Reversed Ready-made to Physicality of the Perfect. The last title came up whilst working, as it became clear that there was no way of avoiding any marks being visible on the fragile surface, in a space constructed out of physical materials. Being familiar to the digital possibilities of Photoshop I normally do not need to care about this classical problem for creating a perfect image.
“So, I am really intrigued by these properties of real material in a real space: gravity and chemical reactions constantly can cause cracks and dents – inevitable mistakes; and I felt as if I was working in a laboratory of minimal reactions. A perfect white space highlights the tiniest mark or imperfect detail. The more reduced the visual input is the more you focus on what appears disturbing.
“Working on my last few exhibitions I have started to observe the unforeseeable developments that the installing of a work can take. I am intrigued by failures – actually, they are no failures. Rather am I learning to go along with the process that a work can follow through reactions to a space. In my last installation I had tried to turn a baroque exhibition space in Dresden into a practical space using the lamp and the ornamental ventilation grid of the historic interior to boil an egg (Praktischer Raum [#1: Eiwärmer] 2011, Oktogon HfBK Dresden).
“The boiling of the egg failed and my space-filling intervention only served to keep a boiled egg at the perfect temperature for consumption. So instead of something very functional I had invented a very decadent apparatus, which in the end completely matched the baroqueness of the architecture. Experiencing such results, I really enjoy challenging every site I get invited to work with for examining the space and its material – every site has its own coordinates.”
Info: Antonia Low was born in Liverpool, UK but lives and works in Berlin. White Cube Longing is part of Seven Sites, a series of installations, performances and events in unexpected locations throughout Manchester and Salford.
White Cube Longing remains on site at Chapel Street and Hope United Reformed Church, Chapel Street, Salford until Friday 30th March. Please contact seven7sites (at) gmail (dot) com to book an appointment to view the work
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