Concertina is a collection of structures by Apparata (Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo Brennan) that explore the social potential of art spaces and transforms arebyte gallery into an environment for openness and discussion. As a continuation of Richard Wentworth’s 2013 work on the Black Maria with Gruppe (of which Lobo Brennan was a founding member), the constructed interference highlights the mundanity of everyday architecture.
A: Could you describe your practice – both as a personal and a social means of expression?
RW: I am digressive, if not discourse. My education was an enjoyable walk through assorted disciplines and trade skills in the late 1960s. Some of the people who taught me were exceptionally open-minded to other disciplines and were happy to talk openly about their interests. Many of these people were architects or engineers in a period when those people were openly engaged in other fields. I enjoy people who have a comprehension of urban fabric and the energies which put it all together, and, if we are lucky, the missionary zeal to do something with foresight and care, even zeal.
A: You worked with Apparata, a London-based firm that aims to “open up possibilities, working with how things are put together.” How did you find working with this company, and what opportunities did it present to you with a new gallery space?
RW: I enjoy being slightly out of my depth with other people who I trust. I don’t want to “own” the collective energy but of course, I want to be seen as a genuine player and influencer. When I worked on An Area of Outstanding Unnatural Beauty with Artangel in the early 2000s it created all sorts of new friendships and dynamics and is remembered fondly by a lot of people, even though this is before social media and there is no catalogue or obvious record. The social media of its day was the social energy of the street. In a strange echo chamber, I worked again at Kings Cross with Gruppe to make Black Maria. This was enormously led by them, but very influenced by remarks I must have made about the watchers being watched in the city, the way we are all on stage but also at the theatre.
A: How is this work a continuation of your previous pieces?
RW: When the opportunity arose to do something with somebody who seems to me to be a “producer”- Nimrod Vardi – I thought that we could revisit some of the conversation in Black Maria which led to this collaboration with Apparata at City Island.
A: How do the pieces contrast the mundanity of the everyday, and invite viewers to re-examine their surroundings? Do you think this is an important idea to be exploring?
RW: By over professionalising ourselves we are forgetting how interesting the person next to us is and the way we might interact purposefully. A large part of the city functions out of incidental proximities, amateur moments, things done or said “for the love of it.” The French expression “Esprit d’escalieris” probably the most pertinent term to cover the sort of energy I hoped to unearth.
Concertina runs until 22 December. For more information: www.arebyte.com
1. Detail of Concertina. Credit: Gigi Giannella.