Above: ‘Frail Deeds of Strangers in a Worn Down Night’ by Carmen Reid. Photo by Andrew Wuttke.
Presented by Art-House, FALLOW sees a run-down house in East St Kilda fleetingly transformed into an installation that examines the transition phase between the site’s state of decay and its imminent revitalisation.
Having quietly existed as a deteriorating squat on Chapel Street, the site of the installation is scheduled for demolition and will eventually be rebuilt as a residential development. Curator of the installation and founding member of SJB Architects, Charles Justin, employed the visions of three local artists in order to explore the life cycle of the building, paying respects to its history and pausing to acknowledge the ‘hidden life’ within the space.
“It is during this fallow time of ruin that these buildings can assume a hidden life, a zone accommodating the often marginalised in our society – squatters, vandals, thieves and addicts,” says Justin.
“This art project explores this hidden life. It takes the building in its ruinous state, with its vandalised fabric, graffiti covered walls and squatter digs and invites three artists to create interventions to and with the building’s fabric and content, to serve as a commentary on this idea.”
The result is more than just the ‘gritty’ space one might expect, and each room is living and sentient in its own way. Carmen Reid’s Frail Deeds of Strangers in a Worn Down Night uses materials found on-site to connect the house’s memories to a dream-like future, with the raw materials referencing an escape from the past. Similarly, Robbie Rowlands’s Sorry for the Intrusion tears into the surface of the house, ripping up floorboards and exposing rubble and ash – revealing the bones of the physical site as a way of connecting to the once-lived rituals and emotions within it.
Visual artist Tunni Kraus’s I Lit a Fire stands out in its colour and brightness, referencing the antagonism between ownership and settlement for the squatters who once inhabited the space. The final room in the site is a collaborative work between all involved; using objects found on-site and an audio recording of one of the squatters being interviewed by police to animate the space and remind observers of its former life.
A photographic record of the installation will be mounted in the lobby of the new development, paying tribute to the intermediary stage in the building’s life.
FALLOW is open to the public for two more weekends this year:
Sat 8 Dec and Sun 9 Dec, 2pm-4pm
Sat 15 Dec and Sun 16 Dec, 2pm-4pm
54-56 Chapel Street, St Kilda