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Curating Contemporary Art Graduate Project Addresses Public Space and Public Art in Vauxhall

The second of this year’s Curating Contemporary Art (CCA) MA graduation projects #DoingItInPublic, is open at Beaconsfield Gallery in Vauxhall until 6 May. The exhibition, which was conceived for Beaconsfield’s industrial Arch Space, addresses notions of public space and place-making in post-industrial society through two new commissions by emerging artists studying on the MA Sculpture programme at the RCA.

#DoingItInPublic aims to raise awareness, contribute to, and prompt a discussion about the post-industrial society. It focuses on the specific socio-economic and geographical context around Vauxhall and Nine Elms, the biggest development site in Europe. Encompassing installation and daily performance, the exhibition engages with Beaconsfield’s neighbourhood, including New Covent Garden Flower Market, to reflect upon the area’s accelerated regeneration.

Central to #DoingItInPublic are works by RCA Sculpture students Paloma Proudfoot and Jakob Rowlinson, newly commissioned by the CCA programme. Their performance based works will be presented at the gallery – alongside a panel discussion between curator and writer Jes Fernie; architect Liza Fior; and Helen Nisbet, Curatorial Fellow at Cubitt Gallery. #DoingItInPublic engages with ideas of public and private at a time when public space in London is rapidly diminishing, and questions what ‘public art’ can be at a time when it is being redefined.

Every morning flowers discarded from the market will be brought to the gallery as part of belittle, a new work by Paloma Proudfoot. Through a performance with artist and choreographer Aniela Piasecka, these flowers will be composed with Proudfoot’s ceramic sculpture and removed by the end of each day.

Through this performance putting out for display and packing down become a metaphor for the wider Nine Elms development, with its persistent focus on demolishing and rebuilding. Looking historically at the original Covent Garden market, the performances will also evoke the alternative culture that thrived in the pubs that opened doors at 6am; the cafés selling breakfasts at midnight to the traders alongside clubbed out revellers; and the debauchery the traders became infamous for.

Jakob Rowlinson is most intrigued by the various ways institutions and developers are keen to inscribe the Nine Elms area with a certain local history. The Vauxhalla Lecture Series (or how the People’s Republic of Vauxhalla gained its name), is a performative lecture by Rowlinson that blurs the lines of fact, truth and fiction, employing improvisation and spontaneous physical decision-making during every stage of the process.

Rowlinson’s work does not only challenge the very notion of ‘public art’, but also seeks to question how vested interests go about defining a whole area, ‘cherry picking’ aspects of local history to suit their agendas. All of these questions warrant an explorative and research based practice to unsettle a situation, disrupt and occupy the everyday.

#DoingItInPublic is curated by Canan Batur, Isabel Blanco-Fernández, Joss Heierli, Carolina Lio and Filip Zezovski Lind as part of the CCA programme Graduate Projects 2017. Read more about the other CCA graduate projects.


Performances and Events

Wednesday 3 May: 6–8pm
 Preview and performative lecture by Jakob Rowlinson

Thursday 4, Friday 5, Saturday 6 May
: Exhibition open 11am–5pm. Performances by Paloma Proudfoot and Aniela Piasecka at the beginning and end of each day

Saturday 6 May: 4–5.30pm 
Panel discussion with Jes Fernie, Helen Nisbet and Liza Fior, 6–7.30pm
 Closing reception with performative lecture by Jakob Rowlinson and performance by Paloma Proudfoot and Aniela Piasecka

Location 

Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, 22 Newport Street, London SE11 6AY