Groundwork: From The Archives Up

Art Life , Exhibitions Oct 06, 2015 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

Groundwork: From The Archives Up chronicles the unique architectural history of Sydney. In response to material from Sydney’s architectural archives, artists and architects working in a variety of performative and collaborative mediums plot the life of the city through the shape of its structures. Developed by curator Joni Taylor from the New Landscapes Institute—a roving research initiative that facilitates artistic and architectural collaboration—Groundwork uses the past to imagine the future of our urban spaces more generally.


Zanny Begg’s documentary How to Blow up a Bubble That Won’t Burst is an account of Italian architect Dante Bini’s Binishell structures. Inspired by UFO’s, the shelters are made via an automated construction process in which concrete shells are “inflated” in under an hour; the Binishells straddled architecture and performance and radicalized processes of design and fabrication. Made in collaboration with students from Narrabeen North Public School—whose library is housed in a Binishell—How to Blow up a Bubble That Won’t Burst proposes a dialogue between the students and Bini himself; an delicate exchange that questions utopian narratives and the future of urban environments. Writer, public toilet cartographer and Psychogeographer Vanessa Berry contributes a map of Sydney Mystery Structures to the exhibition, alongside a series of public walks that take in the byways, aqueducts and otherwise ignored substructures of Sydney. As part of the exhibitions series of public programs, Berry’s walking tour reveals the history of, amongst other things, Sydney’s once extensive network of moving underground footways. Some were built in the 1960s and one linking Hyde park with the domain carpark still remains. Berry’s archeological “digs” of Sydney elevate history to the status of the art object and contribute to an altered—and alternative—awareness of a city I had wrongly assumed I knew.

Sarah Breen Lovett’s Otherscapes, which looks at Sydney’s horticultural history, and Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline’s Owner Occupy, The Last Public Architecture, both radically re-imagine mapping; borders once solid become permeable and conventional concepts of space and property are challenged. From The Groundwork Up looks toward architecture to tell the social history of a city formed from the lives of its people. By using art as a diagnostic tool, the exhibition imagines the future through a creative remembrance of the past.

Until 12 October
Gaffa Gallery and Sydney City Spaces, Sydney
Pic: Zanny Begg, How To Blow Up A Bubble That Won’t Burst, 2015. Film still, courtesy the artist.

Sharne Wolff

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