Potential Architecture fuses art and architecture in four site-specific commissions for Ambika P3 by artists/architects Alexander Brodsky, Sean Griffiths, Joar Nango and Apolonija Šušterŝič. Utilising recycling, craft, and low-tech processes as well as performance, video, sculpture and installation, the works explore the social and material aspects of living environments during the unprecedented large-scale transformation of cities and towns globally.
Potential Architecture draws on the interconnected histories and cultures of international practitioners from Russia, Slovenia, Norway and the UK working at the increasingly diverging interface of art and architecture. Each has an interdisciplinary practice that enables heightened responses to ideas of how communities evolve, how social spaces are used and buildings made. Cultivating new ideas and alternative approaches around the built environment, their commissions for the exhibition indirectly respond to a growing critique on the negative effects of property speculation.
Alexander Brodsky is one of Russia’s best known architects and a sculptor, who was a key member of the paper architects’ movement during the 1970’s Soviet era. He is renowned for projects melding art and architecture using recycled materials such as plastic bags, oil, glass and ice to create new structures and aesthetics. Famous for refusing participation in the state sanctioned production of low-quality, standardised buildings, his practice challenges ideas of permanence, sustainability and civic pride. His best known works include Vodka Ceremony Pavilion (2004), Settlement at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale, and Cistern (2010). Five Towns, his new work for Ambika P3 plays with Ambika P3’s vast space in a structure using local construction materials which celebrates Russian heritage whilst simultaneously critiquing its unregulated and corrupt building industry.
Sean Griffiths is an artist and architect, recognised for his controversial visions of architecture influenced by fine art. In 1990 he co-founded FAT, the influential UK architecture practice renowned for its critical approach to art and architecture. His work challenges notions of representation, monumentality and authenticity and is exemplified by FAT projects such as the Blue House in London (2002) and the BBC TV studios in Cardiff (2012) and by his recent work as a solo artist, “My Dreams of Levitation” (2015), exhibited at RoomArtSpace in London. His new work explores the potency of the door frame, as a device for articulating archetypal architectural spaces. In Piece for 53 Door Frames and 10 Mirrors, multiple doorways augmented by mirrors and suspended off the ground create a series of labyrinthine spaces and endless corridors in which visitors encounter the physicality of the work.
Joar Nango is an artist and architect who creates structures relating to indigenous identity and community interaction, influenced by his Sami heritage. His work investigates the boundaries between architecture, design and visual art and has shown at the Norwegian Sculpture Biennial (2013) and the National Museum of Art, Architecture & Design, Oslo (2013). Nango’s new commission, Nomads Won’t Stand Still for their Portraits, is drawn from his research into Mongolian nomadic thinking and the collective logic and growth of urban settlements. Focused around a felt sculpture made in collaboration with a felt factory in a Ger settlement in Mongolia, the work also features a video made in the country and a photographic publication investigating vernacular fence architecture.
Apolonija Šušterŝič has for twenty years explored the social aspects of living environments as manifested in art and architectural contexts through dialogue with artists, architects, critics and curators, and by encouraging communities to develop their own alternative visions for urban living. She took part in Artes Mundi 5 (2012) and Berlin Biennale (2001). For Potential Architecture Šušterŝič has designed and built Underground Discussion Club, a forum for focused debate around questions such as, Who owns the city and who decides about its ever-changing character? and Are we aware of the consequences of the urban change and who benefits from it? At the core of Underground Discussion Club (Session 1), Šušterŝič’s new installation, is a film exploring these issues in relation to the immediate environs of Westminster and Central London, led by writer, journalist and broadcaster Ekow Eshun with Joe Kerr, Jon Goodbun, Katharine Heron, Sarat Maharaj and Yasminah Beebeejaun.
Potential Architecture is a collaboration between Ambika P3, the University of Westminster’s Faculties of Media Arts, Design & Architecture and Built Environment, and guest curator David Thorp in the 14,000 sq metre former concrete testing facility of Ambika P3, the University of Westminster’s space for contemporary art and architecture in Central London. Built in the 1960s, its dramatic and impressive scale and its many industrial features, offer opportunities for a range of creative activities and provides an inspiring venue for the exhibition of art.
Alexander Brodsky | Sean Griffiths | Joar Nango | Apolonija Šušterŝič
11 March – 19 April 2015
Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS.
Nearest Tube: Baker Street Station. Admission free. Opening Hours: Daily except Mondays Tue – Fri, 11am – 7pm. Sat – Sun, 12pm – 6pm. Admission free. Telephone number for public information/print: +44 (0)20 7911 5876
Image credits: Alexander Brodsky, Rotunda (2009); Sean Griffiths, ‘My Dreams Of Levitation’, (2014); Joar Nanjo, Sámi Shelters, 2009; and Apolonija Šušterŝič, An Impossible Retrospective (Activating The Future) (2011/12).