Alex Hartley erects a decaying, faux modernist ruin in a jungle-like London garden
By Nina Azzarello
In Victoria Miro Gallery’s waterside garden, artist Alex Hartley has erected a major architectural intervention that mirrors the quality of an abandoned domestic building.
Invaded by the natural landscape and built in the canal bank, ‘A Gentle Collapsing II’ turns the London gallery’s garden into a decaying, yet poetic, tableau. Surrounded by dense jungle greenery reminiscent of a subtropical landscape, the staged ruin offers a poignant reflection on themes of deterioration and decay. Forming part of the exhibition ‘After You Left’ at Victoria Miro, the installation reflects classic modernist typologies of clean lines and horizontal planes — common considerations of Bauhaus-style architecture. Yet the seemingly forgotten home is a stark contrast to the aspirational lifestyles defined by the period and its vision of domestic architecture. In turn, ‘A Gentle Collapsing II’ — in part — is not only emblematic of a physical decay, but also the collapsing of ideals and spirit.
Despite this, the intervention also highlights the undeniable aesthetic pleasure in ruins and becomes a sort of time machine that allows visitors’ minds to wander and consider the passage of time. Hartley’s work encourages viewers to consider how we experience the built world around us through surface, line, scale, materials, and contexts. the exhibition is on view from now through December 16, 2016.
Image: Alex Hartley, A Gentle Collapsing II, 2016, installed in Victoria Miro's waterside garden. Photography: Thierry Bal