Catherine Yass, photo by David Freeman
Catherine Yass, photo by David Freeman
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Catherine Yass: 'Falling Away' review

4 out of 5 stars
Eddy Frankel

Time Out says

There’s that old saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and Catherine Yass’s films about buildings have a similarly futile feel. But that’s intentional. The British artist films architecture in states of flux – being built, knocked down, regenerated – to make us consider the political implications of our built environment. 

It kicks off by sending you diving, upside-down, off an in-construction office block in Canary Wharf. It’s an agonisingly slow, stomach-turning, dizzying drop down the face of capitalism itself, with gleaming windows and sharp steel reflecting back at you. 

Then you enter a four screen installation of a tightrope walk between huge Glasgow tower blocks, then a camera spins you around a soon-to-be demolished lighthouse, a piano whirls through the air over BBC Television Centre as it’s being turned into flats, debris rains down from the Royal London hospital as it’s torn apart. 

These buildings are proto-ghosts, semi-corpses, caught mid-way between construction and destruction. Obviously, some are being torn down right in front of you, or about to be, but the implication is that even the new buildings here will be pulled apart eventually. All this transformation taking place is in fact just some stage of demolition.

And all that demolition is about more than architecture, it’s about our lives, our cities, our homes. It’s about being priced out, gentrification, the erasure of history. That her giant films are being shown in this deep, cavernous basement below Baker Street only adds to their threatening, lumbering aura. The piano and tight-rope metaphors are way too heavy handed, but when Yass lets the architecture speaks for itself, it has some pretty damning things to say for itself.


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