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emerging visual ar tists

BARE FACE from scotland + far away

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PORT CH CALiFORN 2


1958 1970

HARLOTTE NiA CiTY

DESIGNED CITIES

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Looking like something from a post-apocalyptic future, but born from an optimistic 1970s speculative housing bubble. Port Charlotte, Florida is a web of subdivisions laid out during the 70s, but there are no houses, just miles of mostly empty tarmac being slowly reclaimed by the trees. California City huddles between the Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley. It is the vision of one man who, in 1958, purchased the land and designed a model city. But the houses were never built. Now, a vast grid of crumbling roads extending well beyond the township into the Mojave Desert is all that remains of his hopes. This brief was sent out at the end of 2010 with an open call for submissions. The artists who responded created the work you see featured in this edition of Bareface.

Bareface is: Katrina Valle and Nic Rue.   With huge thanks to: John Heffernan for his support and patience.   To get in touch: contact@ barefacemagazine.com

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contributors: ross aitchison jack brindley iain mackenzie ailie rutherford anthony shrag


Bareface Magazine chats to artists about what it’s like to work in the UK right now. We caught up with.....

pg. 20 pg. 32

architectural drawings . 10 drawings . 16 text poster

text . 22 script photography . 34 photography group experiment . 28 models


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ross aitchiston A new type of museum is proposed. A museum which stretches across an entire swathe of city, acquiring the elements which have shaped the city throughout time, the dock, the road and the bridge. A museum which reflects an industrial heritage whilst also being a subtle place of contemplation and a signal of the future intent of the city, indeed as Vergara says ‘a call for renewal’.


design for museum of life dundee

Jose Vergara and his vision for a post industrial Detroit. Particularly the (tongue in cheek) quote from Metropolis Magazine in 1995: “I propose that as a tonic for our imagination, as a call for renewal, as a place within our national memory, a dozen city blocks of pre-Depression skyscrapers be stabilized and left standing as ruins: an American Acropolis. We could transform the nearly 100 troubled buildings into a grand national historic park of play and wonder.”

Dundee’s waterfront is an area which has been designated as a place for bland, typical urban renewal with little regard for the built heritage from the 1960s and 1970s. This vast area facing the River Tay in those decades saw a quick burst of development in the name of progress, with the arrival of the Tay Road Bridge and subsequent developments around its base wiping out one hundred years of industrial constructions. The filling in of the cities docks, the driving force which brought people, ideas and wealth from all corners of the globe to this city on the river, saw a dramatic disconnection of people and river for the first time in the city’s history. Today we stand with an opportunity to both safeguard our new mid-20th Century heritage whilst rediscovering that which was lost.

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El Littesky

happy hour drive poster

www.californiacityoptimist.org


happy hour drive jack brindley The name ‘Happy Hour Drive’ is

taken

many

from

vacant

California

City

one

of

the

streenames and

in

actual

group whoes mission statement is to of the city.

el littesky


state department georgia

el littesky


‘happy hour drive’ poster pinned up in california city

www.californiacityoptimist.org


GiLES ROUND I’ve never really had what could be described as a conventional studio space other than those afforded to me through education and residencies. Practically, this means that works are produced wherever is most appropriate or wherever I happen to be. Some pieces are only realised within the gallery space, others are produced between a workshop, a large shed lined with silver insulation material, a table and a chair. For the S1 Residency in Sheffield it was necessary to turn the empty gallery into a functioning workshop. The starting point for this was the recreation of a series of Ken Isaacs 24” module work units from the instructions laid out in his 1974 manual Living Structures. These light collapsible modular benches can be easily transported and reassembled to allow one to work almost anywhere. All the subsequent sculptural/furniture pieces for the exhibition at S1 were produced using these 24” modules.

The work is not site specific. Some pieces especially the Light Sculptures alter depending on the space they are exhibited within. They can only alter in scale and not proportion. This does mean that some previous works may not be suitable or realisable in certain spaces. As the line on a page can only extend within the area given by the paper, the line in space must operate within the actual volume of that space. Of course the idea of these areas and volumes can be fractured, nevertheless this is not the concern of these works.

In order: Idea, Material, Space, Audience. This is not how I think about work though.

Depending on what is being made I will often seek the advice of someone specialist in that field. For example, when beginning to make the brass sculptures a few of years back, I visited a jeweller to learn how to braise metal and the raku pottery was made under the guidance of the brilliant ceramicist, Brian Holland.

Good will. In recent years I have been lucky enough to mainly support the actual work through a combination of residencies, production budgets, occasional funding and good will. I’ve also been recycling a lot of old materials and works. The low back chair from The Form of the Book was made solely from left overs and off cuts. It’s the remnants from works created for three previous exhibitions in Dublin, Graz and Sheffield. All the furniture for South Bermondsey Cinema Dancehall at The Woodmill was made from materials found around the site including gallery walls, scrap wood, old doors, wooden pallets and a pile of metal bike racks. Other elements of some previous exhibitions have been made possible through sponsorship in kind, like a Dieter Rams shelving system borrowed from Vitsoe!

I was just listening to the Government defend the spending cuts on the radio.

There’s no real favourite. In the past I’ve found a decent chop saw and a good pillar drill have been pretty invaluable. During periods of research I visit public libraries such as The National Art Library, The British Library and the library at RIBA. I can’t do much without my glasses. I wear them all year around. I seem to need them more often than not.

When looking for a material or to a method of production I’m not so familiar with I will mainly do research through materials libraries, the internet or through advice. I quite regularly use the same specialist shops, suppliers and manufacturers. I have two great timber merchants locally and a very amusing telephone relationship with Kathy from the electrical flex manufacturer. When producing work outside of London there’s always a period of research trying to locate the same materials/services locally. This has not always been possible which more than not leads to change.

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Braided electrical flex, stainless steel pulleys, cleats, plugs, Bakelite lamp holders & filament light bulbs. Dimensions variable

The Form of the Book, Installation view +44141 Gallery, Glasgow, 201

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Special permission is required to enter the zone of exclusion,” explains Elena Filatova, the Ukranian motorcyclist behind kidofspeed.com. “Mine is issued by a governmental organization. Thank You, Daddy!” The site became an internet sensation in 2004. In disbelief, viewers clicked through a photo gallery of Filatova’s travels through Prypiat, the abandoned city that formerly housed workers from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Before passing through the check point, she makes sure her tank is full, and that her repair kit is with her. “I don’t want to be marooned in the middle of nuclear desert.” Haunting photographs capture her in front of a rusting Ferris wheel, wearing her biking leathers, Geiger counter in hand. The caption for an empty tower block explains that on the 26th of April 1986, crowds of people gathered atop the roof, to watch the beautiful shining cloud that was forming above the reactor. Venturing inside someone’s house, she finds unopened mail and left-behind family photos. Speculating on whether the person that left them behind had been away on a fishing trip, she drily notes that they never returned. Was it true? It’s a compelling story: a biker chick who enjoys the solitude of riding through the barren land left behind after the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster. In reality, it’s a lot easier—and safer—to visit the Zone of Alienation than might be imagined. Away from the most contaminated areas, radiation levels are surprisingly low, and the risks primarily lie in long exposure. While it is likely to be hundreds of years before people live anywhere near Chernobyl again, it is considered perfectly safe to visit. Since 2002, tours of Prypiat have been available to adventurous tourists, and one guide is quoted as saying that this is exactly how Filatova visited. 22


Elena Filatova, kidofspeed.com


Her narrative may not have been entirely true—while denying that her site is a hoax, she does admit to using “poetic license”— but it doesn’t make her site any less fascinating. In the years since the buzz around kiddofspeed, a number of internet services have emerged that allow us all to be urban explorers, safely away from crumbling masonry and caesium-137. Google Maps provides detailed road directions on how to reach Prypiat Amusement Park from Kiev. (Public transit and cycling options are not at this time provided.) Flickr and Panoramio are filled with images of the ruins of a city which was only built in the 1970s.

It was using Google Maps that I first visited Port Charlotte, Florida, a ghost town that is in its own way even stranger than Prypiat. Nothing quite so dramatic or sudden as a nuclear meltdown happened in southwest Florida. The crisis was of a mundane kind that we’ve become very familiar with in the last few years: a speculative property bubble. The street pattern of Port Charlotte suggests standard postwar suburban America, with winding cul-de-sacs named after European cities (Amsterdam Avenue, Paris Lane, Leipzig Circle), birds (Egret Court, Cockatiel Way, Wren Drive), and, of course, trees (Willow Road, Hemlock Drive, Yucca Lane). Zoom in a little closer, and it becomes evident that while the streets are


fully paved, with traffic circles, stop signs and road markings, few of them have even a single house on them. Were it not for the absence of any signs of construction, one might assume that McMansions are imminent. Move into Street View, and the city takes on a particularly post-apocalyptic feel. It was a grey day when the Google Street View car visited Port Charlotte, and on a virtual drive one can go for miles and miles before stumbling across a house, SUV proudly sitting in the driveway. Weeds grow through cracks in the asphalt, even the occasional shrub. Twin grooves in the roadway suggest that people do sometimes drive along even the emptiest of these dead end streets. Why?


Charlotte County reportedly has enough empty lots to last 100 years, the majority of these having been laid out in the 1970s, and completed before the financing disappeared. What makes the current recession unique is that the houses that no-one wanted were built anyway. Many were bought and sold without anyone ever moving in, before the property market came to a screeching halt late in the decade. We’ve become familiar with financial industry terms such as subprime loans, mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. The practical result of these is that there are 18.4 million empty houses in America, a number that is actually lower than it was during the troughs of the recession. Some of these are seasonally occupied, and others for sale by the the owners, but the vast majority have never been lived in, and likely never will be. This represents one in nine houses nationwide; or, five houses for every homeless person in the country. That the suburbs are often weirder than the central city is not a new concept. Films such as Blue Velvet, American Beauty, and The Truman Show all make that point in different ways. Desperate Housewives has used this as its central premise for 6 years running. But the idea that the suburbs could be as empty as 30 square irradiated kilometres in the former Soviet Union: that’s just creepy. 26


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visioning helmet and drawing experiments allie rutherford Allie has been working with architects and urban planners looking at the practice of “visioning” in urban design; imagining how a place might develop, recognising the need to break down resistance between people who call themselves design professionals and people who don’t; to find a common language where everyone’s input carries the same weight. The helmet has been devised as a placebo for the imagination. Using a noise reduction and inward attention mix it allows information to flow backwards and forwards through time and lets the wearer focus their predictive powers. Wearers of the helmet are able to visualise their towns and cities of the future. 29


the drawing experiment

Cardboard models constructed by the artist based on the Drawing Experiment


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GEMMA HOLT AND RiCHARD HEALY I live and work in a converted warehouse in North London. The studio and living space have become one and the same thing. It’s really important to me to be surrounded by objects I love and use everyday that in turn nurture my practice. I have a studio in Islington, North London. It is very important for me to have a separate working space from where I live. I know people can make living and making in the same space work for them, however I find it too stressful. It is important to have a nice environment to work in, for sure. I have a nice big window, which does look out onto the back end of a petrol station, but its the light that counts not the view. And it is right by a park...that makes a difference. Outside of my studio some works, like ‘RGB’, are produced in collaboration with others. ‘RGB’ was made as a prototype with Swedish lighting firm Örsjö Belysning AB.

Well my studio is split into two. One half contains my computer, the other my drawing table. I suppose that set up is symptomatic of my practice. I like the computer because of its speed, it allows me to produce ideas very quickly, however that speed offers little tactile pleasures. Drawing offers that space of physical contact which I like and allows me to slow down. It is a nice balance. Books and magazines for visual and mental stimuli. Especially The National Geographic, World of Interiors, Apartamento and the 1980’s Memphis led Terrazzo magazine. They open new worlds and new imaginations.

Sometimes by selling it, sometimes through being fortunate enough to be invited to participate in artist residencies. Artists fees from galleries and on the odd occasion direct arts funding from the Arts Council or the British Council. However a lot of it is self funded.

Hugely important! Practical help is always needed and luckily having studied at the Royal College of Art you can tap into a wealth of practical knowledge - designers, architects, printers, painters the list goes on and on. Critical support is always needed, that is why it is important to show your work. Exhibitions are stressful but it is an opportunity to, hopefully, discuss your work with others. One of the really enjoyable aspects of this show has been working with Gemma and the discussions we have had about how the show will go together. I ask mainly for practical advice. Having studied an MA in design good advice is in large supply. It’s important to have a network of peers you know and trust, not necessarily to talk about art but for practicalities and gossip and friendship.

Sierra Metro were instrumental in putting Richard and I in touch to create a dialogue for our 2 person show. We had never met before but share similar backgrounds and interests. They put their faith and trust in us and gave us space and time to put together the show. The most striking thing Sierra Metro did was introduce Gemma and myself. The whole exhibition hung on that moment. The gallery also offered a great deal of practical assistance, which was invaluable, especially considering Gemma and I didn’t know the city.

The planned funding cuts will affect every one of us, it would be naive to say otherwise. I don’t think I will have less or more money, however the landscape of the art community will be forced to change. I can’t predict what will happen.

A domestic setting is where my work belongs. So for it to be in the homes of people who will use and love it is the ideal scenario for my work to be shown. : I wouldn’t want to jinx myself.

I don’t know about unknown, but I am inspired by the practises of Travis Meinolf and Johannes Nagel. I have some good friends who are great artists too, like Sebastian Craig and Jack Newling to name just two.

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gemma holt and richard healy at their exhibition ‘shapes and things’ at Sierra Metro, Edinburgh

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anthony schrag hitch-hiking houses

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(Roadside, Middle America. Night. Three structures are huddled together to face into a small and dying fire. November.) House 1: Its colder tonight. My insides feel colder. Doorknobs all frozen and wind through my sills. Duplex: I hear ya, Oldtimer. If I had water in my pipes, they’d be frozen! House 1: Do we have any more fire? My tiles are like ice. House 2: I have my back porch – I don’t need that. We could use that. It’s a bit damp, but it’ll burn. Duplex: No, man, you should keep that. You never know. We could use some of my doors – they’ll burn a small while. House 2: Its ok. At least my porch isn’t structural. Besides, your doors have a nice finish. Duplex: Thanks, man. But only if you’re sure. House 2: Yeah. Duplex: Here, let me help. (Sound of crunching metal and wood, the creak and snap of nails undone and screws ripping. Crackle and then fire sounds. The call of a night owl. Other clichéd sounds of a dark and lonely place.)

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House1: That’s better. Reminds me of my family. (Together): House 2: Yeah. Duplex: Yeah. House 1: Now, boys, don’t get downhearted. We’ll get there… we’ll get there, see? I’ve seen the blueprints. It’s amazing. Streets already built, just waiting for us. I’ll bet there are people lining up for a pair of sturdy boys like yourselves! It’ll be perfect. House 2: Perfect? Duplex: I want to see it. House 1: You’ll see. A few more days on the road, but we’ll get there. You’ll see. (House 1 coughs and wheezes. The sounds echo off the empty highway and back into the cold night air.) Like migrants hefting and wending their way to populate these forgotten cities, eking out a better life, they are characters out of a J.D. Salinger book – dejected and hopeless creatures that are trying to find a better way of being. These hopeful tracts of potential are the Promised Land they have been told about, and they have traveled a long way to get there. And, like migrants looking for work, they move en masse, with difficultly and slowly: hopefully.

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House 2: We’ve been here for days. I don’t think I can go on anymore Duplex: But we have to. We promised the old timer. He wouldn’t want to see us give up. House 2: What are we even doing here? This is not what it was supposed to be like. It was supposed to be so much better. This is nothing like the place we were promised. Roar of a passing truck, then silence. Duplex: Someone will help us. House 2: Maybe we’re giving the wrong signals. Hardly anyone has stopped since we got here. (Pause) House 2: Are you sure we are going the right way?

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CAROLINE GALLACHER THE PANKRATEON 1 May - 5 June 2011

SIERRA METRO

info@/www.sierrametro.com 22 West Harbour Road, Edinburgh EH5 1PN Open Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm, or by appointment


B a r e f a c e I s s u e I V.

June 2011.

Designed Cities.


Issue Four Designed Cities