Alanna Lawley creates site-specific installations which generate experiences of dismissal, seduction and denial. These ‘ante-environments’ are grounded in the notion of the uncanny, and deny the viewer to fully orientate themselves in a specific time or place. Instead, her work creates a moment in which the viewer understands the volume’s ultimate inaccessibility. It is within this instant of comprehension that the viewer is forced to re-evaluate the space they occupy, resulting in an uncertain spatial experience that provokes new revelations about an already familiar space.
At HMK Lawley established a unique dialogue with the space that has resulted in an installation which does not only react to some of the formal aspects of the building, but rather focuses on its underlying institutional structure. Often experienced as separate entities, the (public) exhibition space and (private) office of any art institution are intricately linked. In fact, it is arguably the activity in the office – planning, writing, meeting – that make the exhibitions possible.
Recent years have seen cultural cutbacks all over Europe. These cuts on funding have made the relation between office and exhibition, between institution and artist, increasingly tensed, making it harder and harder to produce new art works and exhibitions, while trying to maintain the outer appearance of ‘business as usual’. Lawley’s installation at HMK refuses this mechanism and instead challenges the preconceived expectations of the exhibition architecture. What is. offers a daring view on the consequences of continuing cuts on culture and the (almost) unsustainable working conditions that result from it. It is a view of the reality many art institutions face but which is hardly ever made visible.
Photos by Noortje Knulst