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‘Theatrum Mundi’: performance architecture

Exhibition dates: 8 December  2006 - 03 February 2007 
Christmas Closing 24, 25, 26 Dec 2006
New Year Closing 31 Dec 2006 & 1 Jan 2007


The metaphor of the 'theatrum mundi' is best known through the phrasing in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It': "All the world's a stage / And all the men and women merely players..." It has a currency stretching back 2,500 years, deriving from Plato and here carries dual meanings.  On the one hand, it characterises the way artists re-imagine the built environment as a stage-set that choreographs our actions and in which we become 'performers'. Several of the artists for example, create performative works or require the audience to undertake actions in response to their interventions. On the other hand, the term also expresses how buildings, rather than individuals, are the principle 'actors' in the world. A number of the artists create essays in the 'architectural uncanny' where institutional buildings become animate or sentient, as though they were competing elements in a Darwinian struggle for survival.


James Carrigan's 'Machine 3.1' can be read as a maquette for a monumental sculpture, or as a proposal for an adventurous architectural intervention. 'Machine 3.1' fills the cavernous space of the former Wapping Power Station with a structure which repeatedly lowers and raises a cast of the entire floor from ceiling to ground.
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'Machine 3.1', 2005, mixed media. Supported by Arts Council England and Complete Fabrications.

Will Duke's three-screen installation 'Zone' is a computer-generated animation recreating a childrens' play area surrounded by tower blocks, in which a slide , bench and see-saw build then dismantle themselves repeatedly, in a cycle of decay and regeneration.
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Still from ''Zone', 2006, Three-channel 3D computer animation, 10 minutes

Sam Griffin's drawings, esoteric belief systems including folklore and magic are intertwined with architecture, language, and memory. Griffin's drawings function as "points of confluence" between ideas, locations and devices loaded with mystical and historical resonances.
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'Ankh-f-n-Khonsu', pencil and gold leaf on paper, 2006, from the series ' Oranur'
Rory Macbeth's video 'Utopia' documents a temporary work created in the public realm - spraypainting the entire 44,000 word text of Thomas More's 'Utopia' over every interior surface of a disused hotel imminently prior to its demolitiondemolition.
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From 'Utopia', 2006, spray paint. Generously supported by Arts Council England and Sunniside Partnership.


Emily Richardson's three-screen video installation 'Petrolia', made using timelapse photography, creates an uncanny poetry from the construction of oil-rigs off the northern coast of Scotland.
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Stills from 'Petrolia', 2005, three-screen video projection, 7 minutes.
Soundtrack by Benedict Drew. Commissioned by The Lighthouse, Glasgow.
Tim Simpson's installation 'Subversive Sightseeing' transforms a tourist's telescope overlooking Hungerford Bridge into a virtual space where our fears and anxieties seem to be rendered uncannily real.
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From 'Subversive Sightseeing', 2006, single-channel video installation. Thanks to Henry Hobson and Chris Hand.
Stephen Turner's 'Seafort Project' documents the artist's six-week long residency in the Shivering Sands Seafort - a disused WWII fortress eight miles off the English coast. Turner's images and texts detail his "exploration of isolation, investigating how one's experience of time changes" in almost monastic solitary confinement. 
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Images from 'Seafort Project', 2005
Supported by Arts Council England: South East, Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council, Creative Partnerships, Mowlem