Photo essay: Dream Space / Espaço Sonho by Paul Castro

By Paul Castro:

“Across the river from Lisbon lies the Peninsula of Setúbal, where these images were taken between 2016 and 2019. In this series I attempt to catch sight of what lies behind the iconic statue of Christ the King, whose arms stretch wide on untold postcards. It is an investigation of a a post-industrial landscape of malaise and renewal, urban overspill and passing holidaymakers, filled with scraps of national history and identity, a place where ordinary people also lead everyday lives.”

About the photographer: Paul Castro is a scholar and practitioner of photography. HIs practice is classic street photography, emerging from a mix of walking, curiosity and kairos. He’s interested in the fleeting mises-en-scène that, staged by his camera, use the world as set, cast passers-by cast as actors, and draw from the general unfolding of everyday life in lieu of plot – Paul’s website

In Profile: Edgework – Journal & Store

TJENTISTE – Andy Day

TJENTISTE – Andy Day

Here at Elsewhere we have long been proud of our collaboration with Edgework, an artist-led, cross-disciplinary journal and online store with a focus on place founded by the artist (and Elsewhere contributor) Layla Curtis. The journal gives space for artists and professionals from a range of disciplines and allows them to give readers an insight into their extended research, fieldwork and working methods. The online store then promotes their work, specialising in editional artworks on paper, publications, posters, postcards and also the work of independent publishers who share their ethos and emphasis on place… including us!

WORLD POLITICAL (Detail) – Layla Curtis

WORLD POLITICAL (Detail) – Layla Curtis

‘Edgework contributors take risks; conduct deep explorations of our cities' overlooked, forgotten and forbidden spaces; misuse, reclaim or appropriate architecture; test the boundaries of access; subvert surveillance technologies and pick apart cartography. They explore the margins of our urban spaces examining how we inhabit them, move through them and establish a sense of place. They are overland wanderers or remote viewers who reflect upon our relationship with nature and landscape.’ – Layla Curtis, founder of Edgework

Artists whose editioned work can be found in the Edgework online shop include Susan Collins, Layla Curtis, Andy Day, Alec Finlay, Joy Gerrard, Lucinda Grange, Graham Gussin, Nicky Hirst, Lee Maelzer, Simon Woolham and George Shaw, and over the coming months we will be profiling them here on the Elsewhere blog. At the same time, we would encourage our readers to explore the different posts, essays and articles on the Edgework journal pages. Recent articles we have enjoyed include ‘The Walking Library for a Wild City’ by Dee Heddon & Misha Myers, and ‘Mapping the Wild City, Fiadh-Bhaile, Orasul Salbatic’ by Alec Finlay.

PROTEST CROWD (NO BREXIT PEOPLE’S VOTE MARCH PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON, 2018) – Joy Gerrard

PROTEST CROWD (NO BREXIT PEOPLE’S VOTE MARCH PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON, 2018) – Joy Gerrard

Another aspect of the project that we have especially enjoyed over recent months is the series of Instagram Takeovers on the Edgework feed. Here, they have invited artists to post images onto the Edgework account over a period of time, highlighting a specific project or body of work and it is well worth checking out. We are really looking forward to showcasing the talents of the artists involved in the Edgework project, and we especially like the opportunity that Edgework offers to connect directly with artists, purchase their work and support what they do.

Edgework artists whose work appears in this post:
Andy Day
Layla Curtis
Joy Gerrard


The Fabric of Place: Yinka Shonibare's The British Library

The British Library, 2014, by Yinka Shonibare, Tate Modern 2019 © Yinka Shonibare. Photograph Oliver Cowling, Tate. Purchased with Art Fund support and funds provided by the Tate International Council, the Africa Acquisitions Committee, Wendy Fisher and THE EKARD COLLECTION, 2019

The British Library, 2014, by Yinka Shonibare, Tate Modern 2019 © Yinka Shonibare. Photograph Oliver Cowling, Tate. Purchased with Art Fund support and funds provided by the Tate International Council, the Africa Acquisitions Committee, Wendy Fisher and THE EKARD COLLECTION, 2019

By Sara Bellini

It was 2014, during what ended up being my final months in England before leaving for good. In my attempts to deal with work-related stress I started taking day trips to escape central London, and it was thanks to two of these trips I came to know the work of Yinka Shonibare.

Without knowing it at the time, my first encounter with his art dated back to my very first week in the country in 2011. His work Nelson's Ship in a Bottle was on display on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, with its colourful sails made of the artist's signature Dutch wax fabric. The fabric (and the meanings behind it) would be the detail that stuck with me during the years, while the photos I took got lost in my poorly managed digital memory.

Dutch wax fabric visually identifies West Africa, including Shonibare's parents' native Nigeria, where he also lived as a child before moving back to the UK to study. What I didn't know about this textile is how complex its ties with colonisation, globalisation and identity are.

Dutch wax fabric takes one of its names from the Dutch merchants that started mass-producing it in the late 19th century, when it was first introduced to Africa through naval commercial routes. Their model was batik, a wax-resist dyed cloth from Indonesia, a Dutch colony until 1949. The initial purpose of the merchants was to break into the batik market with cheaper fabrics, but they couldn't compete with the original hand-made prints. Meanwhile the African market was prospering, driven by ex members of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in Indonesia who had returned to the Dutch Gold Coast in West Africa. Other European countries started making Dutch wax fabric and eventually local companies developed more African-inspired patterns. When African countries gained independence from their former oppressors after WWII, African wax print had interwoven its role into various African communities, especially in the West, enriched with local meanings and customs.

This is how we get to a British contemporary artist, born from Nigerian parents who had moved to the UK in post-colonial times. Shonibare explores all these themes in his works: (post-)colonialism, multiculturalism, history, identity.

The two exhibitions I saw when I was still living in London were at Royal Museums Greenwich and the installation The British Library at Brighton Museum. The British Library is a room lined up with bookcases where each book is covered in Dutch wax print and their spines carry the names of immigrants and children of immigrants that had made contributions to British culture. A computer was available to explore the library and find out about Zaha Hadid, Hans Holbein, Noel Gallagher and more famous and less famous names.

At the beginning of April 2019, Yinka Shonibare's work The British Library was purchased by Tate Modern. Another work from the same series, The African Library, is on display in the exhibition Trade Winds at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town until August 2019.


100 Years Bauhaus: Bauhaus Museum in Weimar

Foto: Andrew Alberts, © heike hanada laboratory of art and architecture 2019

Foto: Andrew Alberts, © heike hanada laboratory of art and architecture 2019

This year marks the centenary of the Bauhaus, and there are celebrations taking place all around the world – anywhere, in fact, that the design school’s influence can be felt. In Weimar, the city where it all began back in 1919, a new museum has opened in a building designed by Heike Hanada and inaugurated earlier this month.

The intention of the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is to be both a dialogue with the past and an interrogation of the future, and developed around the fundamental question: “How do we want to live together?”* In an echo of the founders of the Bauhaus, questions of how we build a society and where art and technology, architecture and everyday life function together, are key themes of the new space.

As a reflection on the past, present and future, the location of the Bauhaus Museum itself, close to the Nazi Gauform and the Jakobsplan student accommodation from the GDR, is a reminder of how the political-economic landscape, architecture and community life are always intertwined.

Bauhaus Museum, Weimar (Google Maps)
From April 2019
Museum website

*Wie wollen wir zusammenleben?


Exhibition: Queer Spaces at Whitechapel Gallery

Ralph Dunn / Public Toilets / 2004 / Photograph: Courtesy the artist

Ralph Dunn / Public Toilets / 2004 / Photograph: Courtesy the artist

How has the London cityscape influenced the social life of the LGBTQ+ community in the past thirty years? And what are the effects of the current redevelopment plans on queer spaces? These are the core questions explored in the exhibition Queer Spaces: London 1980s – Today, which opened at the Whitechapel Gallery on 2 April.

The exhibition includes the ongoing research on queer venues compiled by UCL Urban Laboratory from 1986. Parallel to this archive, works focussed on the recent past are presented by contemporary artists like Tom Burr, Evan Ifekoya, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Prem Sahib and Ralph Dunn.

Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings / The Scarcity of Liberty #1 / 2016 / Cork board mounted on wooden frame,magazine pages, pins / Courtesy the artists and Arcadia Missa

Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings / The Scarcity of Liberty #1 / 2016 / Cork board mounted on wooden frame,magazine pages, pins / Courtesy the artists and Arcadia Missa

In the past decade around half of the LGBTQ+ venues in London have shut down due to rising rents and capitalistic ventures. This exhibition aims to show why identity-specific cultural infrastructures are important and what is threatening them, and how the diverse queer community contributes to London activism, creativity and self-expression.

Queer Spaces: London 1980s - Today
Whitechapel Gallery, London (Google Maps)
2 April - 25 August 2019
Exhibition website



Like Home

In our home town of Berlin, Catherine Marshall visits an exhibition that explores notions of place and home through the work of different artists:

In a grand corner apartment block in Berlin’s Mitte near Friedrichstraße, eleven artists with a connection to South America and Berlin have set up temporary home, or ‘Like Home” as the exhibition is titled. It is organised by the project Loop Raum, and the focus of the work is on abstraction, patterning, repetition and colour. Visiting it transported me back to the time of abundant unrenovated spaces in Berlin, where you might come across pop-up exhibitions in unusual places and have the pleasure of discovering the unexpected. Stepping into the the first-floor apartment where the exhibition is held, the space exudes the former grandeur of its Grunderzeit architecture with its high ceilings, intricate stucco and beautiful parquet flooring. At the same time, the rooms are damp and cold in places, the corridors are quite spooky and maze-like and plaster lies exposed with remnants of wallpaper from bygone years. We start to explore.

Carla Guagliardi / "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air)

Carla Guagliardi / "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air)

In the first room, we see a delicate kinetic sculpture of iron rods supported by rubber bands that crisscross the entire room by the Brazilian artist Carla Guagliardi.  A piece called "O Lugar do ar" (The place of air), its structure imposes a new language over the room with its potential to shift and change shape. It's material and formal abstraction is incongruous to the historicist style of the room, yet it reinvents it. It is not solid and fixed, yet it has a strong presence. When we endeavour to make a new city feel like home, we wish to carve out a space for ourselves, both physically and mentally. Due to economic necessity, a transient way of life can also become a permanent state.

We turn the corner down a long corridor where a small drawing by Columbian artist Carlos Silva from his ‘Mazy Drawing’ series hangs. Its overlapping squares of blue ink appear to have been made with a scraping technique. The wall it hangs on carries its own marks: Swathes of white filler on plywood and torn wallpaper edges. The work draws attention to the layers of workmanship and materials of the flat itself. In this show, many of the artworks resonate with the apartment itself, its ghosts and history, making us question who might have lived here. It reminds us also that home is never static, is not just located in place but also in time. 

Carlos Silva / "Mazy Drawing II"

Carlos Silva / "Mazy Drawing II"

Leaving the corridor, Chilean artistGonzalo Reyes Araos’ grid-like “RGB Painting” revels in glitches that might appear on a computer screen, except that this is reproduced here meticulously in paint. It’s as if the romantic landscape genre of the eighteenth century practiced by artists such as Caneletto has been updated. Instead of architectural ruins we have crumbling technology. Have we passed the threshold where our home screens feel more like home than our actual home?

Other works in the show play with optical illusion, geometric forms and seem to want to reach beyond the boundaries possible between four walls or even within the limits of their own frames. Carla Bertone’s colourful painting ‘Turgoxid’ looks as if origami paper has been folded and refolded in a quest to reach the limits imposed by the square, if there are any. Maria Muroz’s “Lemniscata” is a play on the mathematical symbol of an infinity loop. Close up, however the progression of colour through the figure of eight is not so straightforward. New angles and colours become apparent, questioning our own logic.

When you move city or country or live between places then perhaps there is ‘no place like home’. Instead it is something better, a plurality of homes, experiences, memories, friends and origins. We have moved on from Dorothy’s trance-line repetitions of “there is no place like home” as she returns to her Kansas’ origin. We prefer the uncertainty of Oz, and its new possibilities. In ‘Like Home’ I felt these artists might enjoy that notion too.

The exhibition ‘Like Home’ has been extended to July 21 and has been expanded to include an additional fifteen more artists. It can be seen at GLINT, Glinkastraße 17, 10117. The show was originally paired with another project called ‘No Place’ with the joint title ‘No place/ Like Home’

Borders and their consequences: Introducing 'the corridor'

Image: Vera Drebusch

Image: Vera Drebusch

The Corridor is a new project from Ireland exploring borders and their consequences. One of the founders of the project is the Elsewhere Books Editor Marcel Krueger, who we asked to introduce the project and the first events and actions that will be taking place in the coming months:

Who needs borders anyway?

For a year now, my wife Anne and I live in Dundalk in Ireland. We moved here for a variety of reasons: to live and work in a smaller town away from the molochs of Berlin and Dublin (where renting out has become impossible anyway), to live by the sea, to be close to my office. We knew that we would be moving next to one of the main Brexit-faultlines, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The longer we live here, the more we've become fascinated with the history of our new hometown and worried about what the future might hold for the communities north and south of the border. As a writer & journalist and a curator & arts manager coming from a country which was defined by a border for several decades, we now want to explore the area through both our fields of expertise, and have created 'the corridor'.    

'the corridor' is an interdisciplinary and discursive project that which explores borders and their political, social and cultural consequences through a series of public talks, screenings and exhibitions. With artists from all fields, historians, sociologists, contemporary witnesses and other experts we want to discuss the history of the Irish border and the future challenges of the upcoming EU border for this area. Our first event series is a collaboration with the 1. Deutsches Stromorchester (1st German Electrophonic Orchestra), and you can find more details on our website. Coming events will include a fish dinner with fishermen from both sides of the border initiated by German artist Vera Drebusch, and an exchange about walking borders between Elsewhere editor-in-chief Paul Scraton and Irish writers Garett Carr and Evelyn Conlon. 

To paraphrase Jan Morris, if race is a fraud, then nationality is a cruel pretense. There is nothing organic to it. As the tangled history of the corridor between Belfast and Dublin shows, it is disposable. You can find your nationality altered for you, overnight, by statesmen far away. So who needs borders anyway?

April Clouds

170417_Himmel_maerkischesland_lr.jpg

Märkisches Land, 17 April 2017, East

By Rolf Schröter:

The landscape that can be viewed through the window of an intercity train flies by, and things one might wish to focus on vanish too quickly. The only real world thing outside the train that can be grasped, that stays long enough to let musing begin, is the sky. This is especially true in spring, when above the monotonous agricultural deserts of the German plain the clouds and sunlight perform their works of great theatre. I try to focus on small excerpts of that performance, to capture them in a small notebook that I carry in my pocket. It is hasty work, as the clouds and the train move, and by the time I am finished things have progressed so far that I cannot check my sketch with the original any more. It doesn't matter. Instead I note the time, the approximate place, and the direction of travel. I take home with me a report, even if it might be fiction.

Westhavelland, 28 April 2017, West

 

Wolfsburg, 28 April 2017, West

 

Isenbüttel, 17 April 2017, East

 

Uetze, 17 April 2017, East

 

Rolf Schröter is a draughtsman living in Berlin. While doing technical and design drawings for the living, he is spending a lot of free time sketching from observation in his town or on journeys. He publishes this work on his blog skizzenblog.rolfschroeter.com.

[25] Pockets of [Swansea], [Cardiff] and [London]

[25] Pockets of [Swansea]

[25] Pockets of [Swansea]

We were sent an email recently about a fascinating project called [25] Pockets of [...]. The idea is to create framed object assemblages through gifts, referrals and random encounters within cities. 

Participants give away to the assemblage an object possession and then write on a picture frame, directions for the next location and person, or 'pocket' to be visited in a particular city. The trail of referrals from person to person continues in any particular city until 25 objects from 25 referrals have been collected. The objects are then incorporated into a final collage.

[25] Pockets of [Cardiff]

[25] Pockets of [Cardiff]

Positioning of the assembled objects on the montage correlates to the locations at which these were obtained so that there is a relationship between the object's placements to these locations.
 
Instead of mapping out and arriving at a fixed definition of the identity and substance of a place, it is hoped that [25] Pockets of […] allows viewers to glimpse a city as a dynamic variation of living relations and discover a sense of a place via one of many possible open-ended, overlapping series of interconnections and encounters.

[25] Pockets of [London]

[25] Pockets of [London]

[25] Pockets of [...] is the brainchild of Victor Buehring, who drifts around cities, makes assemblages and enjoys writing. You can see accounts of his wanderings on his Artrospektive website, or take a look at the following video that explains a bit more about the project:

The art of Ellis O'Connor

We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to feature the artwork of Ellis O'Connor here on the Elsewhere blog. Ellis is a visual artist based in Scotland, and since graduating a couple of years ago from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design she has worked in residency programmes in Iceland and Norway. She recently returned from an expedition with the Arctic Circle Organisation to the High Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard, and in her work you can see how she uses the visual language of drawing and lithographic printmaking to challenge assumptions about the natural environment.

Through her work, Ellis wants to reintepret the grandeur of natural land forms and re-present this visual information laden with power. As an artist, conservationist and keen mountain climber, Ellis aims to address the issues of climate change and wild land in her work, in the hope of inspiring others to take action for the future as well as to highlight the significance of the natural world around us.

If you would like to see more from Ellis, you can check out her website, her blog or visit her instagram feed.