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Sanderson, L., Stone, S., 2019.

UnDoing Exhibition

Output Type:Exhibition
Venue:Castlefield Gallery
Dates:21/3/2019 - 26/5/2019
Number of Works:44

The scope of research was conducted through the curation of an exhibition with contributions from the fields of architecture, art, interactive art, photography, visual arts and academia whose practice explores how buildings, places and artefacts are re-used, reinterpreted and remembered. Key questions defining the exhibition themes are; How do architects manage the conflict between the needs of the present with the value of the past? What is lost once a building is gone for good? What is our relationship to our history, and how do we inhabit and respond to our present environment?

UnDoing featured international contributions including artwork formed of everyday found photographs, a constructed manuscript that can be read as a house, architectural propositions, a model of the legendary Haçienda nightclub and a celebrated window from renowned philosopher, Wittgenstein. Through the juxtaposition of artworks and architectural drawings, photographs and models, the exhibition invites the viewer to question the use of space itself.

The exhibition was realised in collaboration with Castlefield Gallery and independent curator Tom Emery. Castlefield Gallery is one of Northern England's most active and successful agencies for developing emerging contemporary artists and practice. Tom Emery has curated exhibition in notable galleries including Bankley Studios, Toast, Pavement Gallery and the Holden Gallery, and is a regular contributor to Art Monthly.

Links were made between curating the show and curating the city, examining the research questions through the collection and selection of works. A number of iterations of artists and architects were explored, looking at particular projects and the curation of the piece as a whole, bringing together varied approaches, to provide a project with a diversity of medium and context.

The final list of interdisciplinary exhibitors were from backgrounds of architecture, art, interactive art, photography, visual arts and academia, expanding the significance, originality and audience of the research and bringing together sculpture, collage, orthographics, models, installation and film covering international territories of Manchester, Tehran, Leominster, Poland, Edinburgh, Venice, Palestine, Belgium and Ghent as well as imagined futures and spaces now lost.

The exhibition featured different themes that were decided by the curatorial team and contributors were sorted to respond to these themes with their projects. Parallels can be drawn with the post-modern act of assembling a collection. What is decisive within the art of collecting is that the object is detached from all of its original functions in order to enter into the closest conceivable relationship with things of the same kind. This affiliation is the diametric opposite of any utility, and falls into the peculiar category of completeness. Walter Benjamin describes this idea as '... an attempt or an endeavour to remove something from its original system of classification and place it into a new expressively devised structure of organisation' (Hanssen (Ed.), 2006). This can be seen most notably in the curation of Wittgenstein's Window, embedded in a layered composition by James Ackerley, adjacent to the Lost Space model, itself a reimagination of the house where the window was first constructed and making a 'room' for the drawings of another home by Connor + Darby beyond.

UnDoing opened on the 22 March 2019 to a large number of invited guests, patrons and press at Castlefield Gallery and ran for eight weeks.

The city of Manchester was the topic for two walking tours, one examining building reuse, written and produced by academics Sally Stone and Laura Sanderson with architectural conservationist Johnathan Djabarouti, and the other examining architecture and art in the public realm, written and produced by Matthew Pendergast and Tom Emery. An exhibition catalogue was written and manufactured to disseminate the themes during the exhibition and beyond. The completed, 70 page book, contained two essays by the curatorial team, one written by Sally Stone and Laura Sanderson titled UnDoing Buildings and one written by Matthew Pendergast titled Towers, Tanks and Statues. Each essay examined the research questions through a different lens, one architectural and one artistic. A short introduction by Tom Emery and an illustrated description of each piece of work exhibited, completed the publication which was published by The MSA Press (ISBN 978-0-9929673-6-9).

UnDoing is the subject of an upcoming conference paper (Greenlines, 2020) authored by Laura Sanderson and Sally Stone to bring together conscious reflection on the exhibition curation during the process (reflection-in-action) and on the documented experiences after the exhibition (reflection-on-action) in line with the theories of Mäkelä + Nimkulrat (2011) on Practice-Led Design Research.

The project found parallels in the process of curating a series of found artefacts (the exhibition approach) with the academic methodology of dealing with the constructed site (the exhibition content), leading to the act of curation being a mode of contextual practice.