With plywood in one hand, and Sitex in the other, London-based artist and writer Laura Oldfield Ford had the building blocks for her meritorious installation Alpha, Isis, Eden in her grasp.
For an artist whose work is more often than not a “psychogeographic mapping of de-industrialised zones,” these materials would become central to her new major installation at The Showroom, a contemporary art space located in Marylebone. In many respects, they would form a structure that once covered with collage, drawing, and text, soon resembled the urban landscape of The Showroom’s neighbourhood of Church Street – a neighbourhood on the cusp of transformation, gearing for all of the nips and tucks that come with gentrification. In this mix, this weaving of materials and fragments, Oldfield Ford would also create a work that is attracting the attention of art enthusiasts and passing pedestrians alike.
What makes this installation particularly striking is its sound work, made in collaboration with sound engineer and producer Jack Latham. Throughout the gallery space, speakers play a compilation of recordings of sounds and overheard conversations from the Church Street area, which drifts around The Showroom like a soft echo.
To immerse oneself in this new work is to have insight into Oldfield Ford’s process that transforms anecdotes of ‘dérives’ (or walks that she has taken around a particular area) drifting through her mind into artwork. In this case, Oldfield Ford has mapped what she calls “the psychic contours” of The Showroom’s neighbourhood, transforming the surrounding urban environment into an installation that stimulates the eye, piques the interest of the ear and, brushes the nape of the neck. The viewer finds him or herself immersed, not just in a gallery space, but in a visual and audio narrative that impacts several senses of the human body.
Alpha, Isis, Eden, named after three housing blocks proposed for radical redevelopment only minutes away from The Showroom, is a feast for the eyes and the ears. It is an installation that has been, and will be, a treat for gallery-goers and those looking to dabble in something slightly different this March.
1st February – 18th March 2017
63 Penfold Street
Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm
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Words: Julia Gessler
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