An unprecedented refugee crisis, war, gentrification, political instability, poverty, environmental change, Internet culture: these are just some of the factors that have in recent years disrupted established notions of the meaning, parameters, and function of personal, political, national, and civic space. It is in this context that this gallery installation considers past and contemporary explorations of the built environment.
Here, the term “built” encompasses the exterior of physical structures, but also private interior spaces. Through a range of mediums and formats, these artists investigate the built environment as a physical, spiritual, and phenomenological experience. The idea of personal and collective memory also links the works on display. Distinct choices of scale and the introduction of unusual materials add an element of surprise to many of these works. Likewise, a shift in vantage point may ask the viewer to reposition herself as voyeur, witness, or disciple. The works juxtapose the transient and the permanent, and suggest the political potential of personal space and the creation of private environments. While the gallery does present seemingly conventional interpretations of built space, these also actively promote the dismantling of such conventions to expose the symbolic constructions, fictions, and ideological investments underlying them. In this way, these artists portray the built environment and its representation as historically in flux; they challenge us to consider new ways of relating the personal to the public space.