converting a bare construction floor plate into an otherworld contemporary exhibition space for 'Intersection'

 
 

I was handed the keys to a newly built space consisting of 350sqm on a single floor plate that was very raw and unfinished. Once we opened up the space I set about blacking out all the windows and installing a hand built lighting system specifically made for the exhibition in advance. With a paid studio team of 6 we stage set the windows with theatre blackout fabric. I had created 42 lighting bags (140x30x15cms in size) from the same  fabric to wrap and competely blackout the ugly banks of flouresctent tube lighting seen below. The bag only allowed for a single strip of light (110 x 7 cms) to leave the light unit after passing through a rich deep green stage filter.

View a short film about the process behind the scenes of how these works were made in the studio. 
inside the vanitas room
These would set the tone for guests arrivals, as they enter into the
 Vanitas
room, the lighting resembling the landing strip lights at a surreal airport to guide people into the vast space..


The before and after trasnformation was simply incredible, taking the visual direction into steely bottle green 'Blade Runner' territory. The artworks were lit by individually made low energy spot lights, emmitting a perfect 5400 degree colour temperature with a shaped soft edge vignette. The lighting and artworks themselves were installed using not one single screw aside of the three large 200 cms pieces which were suspended mid-air on high tensile micro-wire assemblies, this was my promise to the building owner Mr Peter Simon of The Monsoon Collection; that I would return the space completely unchanged and undamaged. It took just over a week for the complete transformation, covering all aspects of the space, lighting and artworks. I was allowed full day and night access to the space with no gallery interruptions or direction so I created the space exactly how I had envisioned it from the very beginning with my own team.

moving an artists proof of 'Grace' dated 2010. (200x150x7cms) to its hang location.
NB. this piece sold at auction just after the exhibition for £19,000.



inside the vanitas room for exhibition intersection with peter simon
It is an interesting thread that the complex Vanitas works presented in the exhibition can take up to a year to prepare in the studio, from growing flowers or hand producing the props used in the scenes, the only record of the event having ever taken place is the film plates that I use to document these underwater tableaux; only to destroy the scene straight afterwards as if it never in fact had taken place at all. The exact same execution was the exhibition space itself, now but a memory but for these images recording the events physical presence. With no damage or down the line trace that we were in fact ever there at all.

Anna McNay, Arts Correspondent for Studio International Magazine visited and wrote about the exhibition saying ‘ Walking in to any show by English artist Alexander James is like being in a multi story car park lit by Dan Flavin. ’  


I have not written about or documented this important exhibition ( catalogues in English & Russian available ) before since it took place in May 2013, this was because the art dealer with whom I collaborated on this project had a rather strange approach to honesty, accounting and provenance  approaching criminality; and who decided invited a sales team to head up the gallery staff for the opening and press events; one of which had just come out of prison who kept taking incessantly about how dolphins are being used by the CIA to read the contents of your mobile phone - I jest you not; and another who was a charismatic but super dodgy corporate finance guy who also doubles as Londons 'Escobar' style cocaine connection, who I found literally cutting up large blocks of the drug in the exhibition bathroom. At the time very worrying given the huge time and money investment in hosting such a large exhibition, but now with the privilege of hindsight I can look back at it all and laugh.

please visit the STUDIO FILM ARCHIVE to see how this exhibition all came together.
contact us for more information on available works - info (at) Distil Ennui . com

or register for a bi-annual studio update  and lets stay connected.


 

 

 

 
please visit the STUDIO FILM ARCHIVE to see more 
contact us for more information on available works - info (at) Distil Ennui . com

or register for a bi-annual studio update  and lets stay connected.

 
photography courtesy Denis Nguyen ©.