Saturday, August 01, 2015

Utopia is not in the past

Ceramics studio co-op banners as shown in Office sessions IV: Soho.


40 Beak street

While Office Sessions IV are still on, I am tempted to make few notes about the space I was invited to show my work in as a part of the basement group. Office Sessions IV are taking over the space at 40 Beak street in Soho. The space is a former police station that was empty for couple of years, and later in 2013 it was squatted by anti-G20 protesters, and made into Anti-G20 HQ. The space was violently evicted. (Reports from Independent, Mail, BBC, Metro).

Artists accepted the space differently. Some sought to neutralise it, and bring it closer to the white cube, others played with symbols, painting Anarchy symbols over into a star... What we reached downstairs was an interesting consensus. A lot of care went into installing the show around the trace of history of the space and keeping signs of political protest. Most of the work wasn't reacting to the space as most I understand had a last minute notice about the exhibition. I think it felt right to keep the traces of G20 HQ, think about work in relation to them... They are signifiers of the space, its history, where we are just temporary visitors, as much as squatters were in 2013.

One of the important decisions was installing Every Day is May Day banner in the small courtyard filled with rubble. Victoria Burgess (who we worked with together on the show in Berlin) recognised the space gesture that repeated in this show as it happened on Glogauer Strasse. There I took a photocopy of the Oranienplatz image to the window across the road. This tension between external/internal. Public, people's and confined to artistic space is important. We hanged Mayday outside, and my work hardly ever had better light, and companions. The scribble "Good people break bad laws" made me pay attention to the courtyard from the very beginning, and it feels that having the work out there may tell the story of the station and squat better than if we've left the wall empty.
It seems with 40 Beak street, art is more of a tool to tell history of dissent and violence, enclosures of commons, gentrification and money.


I have taken some images on the preview day when I went to see the space. I did not know it's history, and I was shocked to see I am going to make a show in ex-squat. Histories of violence in these spaces are intense, and it seems pointless to bring one's de-contextualised work made for hopeful spaces of liberation (like my worker co-op) to spaces like this.





Caitlin Mavroleon, director and founder of Office Sessions, facebook: