Potential Architecture

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 (Joar Nango: 'Nomads Wont's Stand Still for their Portraits'. Photo: David Freeman)
Joar Nango: 'Nomads Wont's Stand Still for their Portraits'. Photo: David Freeman
 (Alexander Brodsky: 'Five Towns'. Photo: David Freeman)
Alexander Brodsky: 'Five Towns'. Photo: David Freeman
 (Apolonija Šušteršič: 'Underground Discussion Club'. Photo: David Freeman)
Apolonija Šušteršič: 'Underground Discussion Club'. Photo: David Freeman
 ('Potential Architecture' installation view.)
'Potential Architecture' installation view.
 (Sean Griffiths: 'Piece for 53 Door Frames and 10 Mirrors'. Photo: David Freeman)
Sean Griffiths: 'Piece for 53 Door Frames and 10 Mirrors'. Photo: David Freeman

You’d think this exhibition, all about crossovers between art and architecture, would be a natural fit for Ambika P3 – a vast, underground space in Marylebone, whose industrial architecture stems from its former role as a concrete-testing facility. Yet unfortunately the show never really gets going, and actually seems stymied by its surroundings.

Only one of the four exhibitors, Russian architect/sculptor Alexander Brodsky, turns the space to any sort of advantage. Suspending immense lengths of plastic sheeting from the celling, he creates an ad hoc, hugely tall room. Inside, various tiny, roughly worked models of broken, rubble-strewn structures resemble something from Pompeii or perhaps a war zone. The atmosphere suggests ruination, transience – entirely appropriate, indeed, for a temporary exhibition in a re-purposed building.

A problem with these installations is that you’re meant to relate to them as you would most art, thinking about content and subject matter, as well as about traditional architectural notions of form and function. So, Apolonija Šušteršič has built a kind of wooden debating area, to provoke discussion around social issues in the City of Westminster: large streetplan fills the central floor, while assorted folders contain bumf on topics of housing, welfare, gentrification.

Meanwhile, Sean Griffiths’s self-descriptive ‘Piece for 53 Door Frames and 10 Mirrors’ arranges objects in an absurdist, counter-intuitive jumble, as a way of disrupting your normal experience of interior space. Yet while both concepts are sound, the works feel physically curtailed or deficient. In stranger-averse London, nobody’s honestly going to start impromptu debating; and the wooden door frames look rather listless in this industrial environment. In the end, it’s no coincidence that the most directly engaging installation, by Joar Nango – on the subject of the informal architecture of Mongolian nomads – centres around a video documentary, in effect bypassing the challenge of the space altogether.

Gabriel Coxhead

Event website: http://www.p3exhibitions.com
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