Useless: A Space Without a Function
This project is - in the artist’s intention - a “quasi-scientific experiment”, and consists of a permanent public sculpture, made of a prefabricated glass architectural structure (approx 5x5m wide and 3m high) produced by a company that usually supplies similar commercial spaces (the artist given example is Kingspan). This space would be furnished following a survey carried out in five public-access buildings from each of the five UK major cities., with the expectation of identifying "the most generic and ubiquitous of design elements". The artist at the same time would collect different ‘codes of conduct’, which should also then be applied - all together - inside the installation. The access to the space would be granted to five people at a time, and thanks to an applied two-way mirror film, “those outside could observe the actions of those inside whilst those inside would experience a sense of isolation and immersion in their immediate confines”, while the rules would be enforced by a guard.
The concept revolves around the opportunity of exploring “a new idea of conscious surrender”, instead of the strategies of resistance and disobedience usually applied in the name of creativity and artistic freedom: Darbyshire research about the progressive and growing standardization of the designed space around us, which leads the spaces themselves to be less and less recognizable in respect to their function, here is declined alongside an investigation of the freedom that within these spaces we choose to give up for many different reasons. Starting from the writings by Georges Perec and Marc Augé, but also by socio-political theorists Franco “Bifo” Berardi and Mark Fisher, Darbyshire here comes to theorize a model to wonder "if in fact surrender could be more liberating than resistance", considering contemporary social pressures. The aim is to create a space that does not declare its function, which may appear anonymous and go unnoticed, and that leaves its user confused as to what is expected from it.
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