Laura McLean-Ferris, 'Review' (Guardian Unlimited, 07/11/2008)
If the idea of repossession is leaving the homeowners among you unnerved, then at least you can see a few exhibitions this week that give abandoned buildings an admiring second glance. For anyone planning to visit the Hayward gallery’s Andy Warhol exhibition in London, you have one week left to pop upstairs to the Hayward Project Space and see feted young Frenchman Cyprien Gaillard’s exhibition, Glasgow 2014. Here you will find huge photographic prints documenting brutalist blocks of social housing during demolition. Some are captured in France, some in Glasgow ahead of the Commonwealth games, all markers of decay. Undercurrents of violence in the photographs are brought to the surface by an unsettling film of a young man cutting his nose as he dives into a lake.
Roger Hiorns’ Artangel project Seizure, has been extended until the end of November, and a good thing too. Although I hesitate to add to the queues – my message to you is get to south London now. Knowledge of this unlikely wonder has spread like a virus, perhaps appropriate for Hirons’ concern wit breeding and propagation. The artist has converted an abandoned council flat near London Bridge into an airtight vessel and filled it with copper sulphate so that astonishingly beautiful blue crystals now bloom on every surface. This small piece of abandoned history now festers and teems with cold yet fecund life.
Also taking advantage of an abandoned building in London are commercial gallery Ibid Projects, who in October opened up a temporary project space in a rickety old house in Hoxton Square; a stark contrast to their polished space on Vyner Street. This rougher setting gives you a chance to see new work from their roster of gallery artists, and lobby space of artists invited by Anthea Hamilton. Detailed oil paintings of twigs and berries from Chris Orr, painted in a romantic style, sit particularly well in this decrepit environment, as does David Adamo’s film of a man waltzing alone around a smoky ballroom filled with balloons.
In Norwich artist Lucy Harrison is also concerned with ghostly buildings and empty places. Harrison is keen on getting right into the fabric of an area (see her Stratford project for Art on the Underground). For her exhibition Haunts at Norwich Outpost, Harrison scoured local charity shops for old guidebooks of the area, but found only guidebooks to faraway destinations (no Norwich jokes, please). This mixture of books, found and newly taken photographs will lead you to empty rooms, derelict buildings and hoardings. A ghost in every one.
There are currently two exhibitions of previous Turner prize-winners across the UK, both names worth reacquainting yourself with. If you’re in Birmingham you have the chance to (re)consider Martin Creed, the headline grabber of lights-on-and-off and sprints though Tate Britain fame. At Ikon Birmingham you’ll find an exhibition that emphasizes Creed’s fascination with simple and poetic instructions and basic human processes including illness and sex. Further north, Cumbrian – born Keith Tyson has something of a homecoming exhibition at Tullie House in Carlisle, with several new Nature Paintings. Tyson’s alchemy with chemical and paint reactions on shiny aluminium surface glossily bubble and fizz, as much like a glittering virus as a vast cosmic explosion.
If you need a little something to pep you up after all the talk of downturn, in Glasgow you’ll find a set of commodities promising life-giving properties – Kalms (for nerves), Optrex eye drops and Optivia cereal are rendered in lumpen painted sculptures and mosaics. The symbolism of the packaging is all hearts and eyes, clouds and birds, each promising magical portion-like properties that they can never bestow on us. All these are part of Alex Frost’s exhibition Compassion Fatigue at Sorcha Dallas, in which yesterday’s must-have supplement is today’s sorry artefact. So maybe not so cheerful after all.