Alex Hartley is interested in facets of counterculture. His large-scale installations are sometimes presented as ruins where place, purpose and context intermingle. As an example of the covert, illegal and alternative use of buildings, Hartley's Watou Grow Room (on view until 4 September 2022) is an abandoned ‘grow house’ in a former café in Watou. The installation shows the waste and technical paraphernalia of an abandoned cannabis plantation. Although the exact crop is not specified, ‘someone’ here has gone to great lengths to increase production and hide what is going on.
These “parasitic” spaces can occur in urban tower blocks and department stores, in farm barns and rural business parks. They are sometimes simply abandoned after the plants are harvested. These grow houses can be located anywhere, in any neighborhood, hidden from view. Hartley creates a theatrical installation in a building where locals pass by regularly, without considering what lies behind the walls.
Image: Alex Hartley, Watou Grow House, 2022
© Alex Hartley
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro