Counter Constructs brings together seven artists from the UK and North America in an exhibition exploring strategies of representation and critique of the urban built environment. Responding to the undead ‘regeneration’ of global development projects and the geologic sediment of spatial histories, the exhibition is a series of implicit proposals and contestations. Unfinished maps, unspecified models, unbuilt plans and unbuilding the city – the exhibition is as much about utopia as it is about its folly.
Initially organised by Tim Ivison & Julia Tcharfas around their research-based collaborative practice, Counter Constructs is a way to extend their dialogue on urban space to a wider range of interpretations. The artists in the show are brought together by a shared interest in mining the structures of architectural thinking, taking failure and conjecture as a starting point for productive investigations.
Comprising a number of independent installations, each work forms a part of a circuitous system of associations and digressions. The politics of history and preservation are played out in sound installation and sculpture, while the fetishisation of the suburban is both questioned and consecrated in film. An installation of sculpture, maps and images investigates the unbuilt visions of Edward Lutyens, a détourned architectural pavilion subverts the logic of modern utopias, and a floor-drawing altered daily recalls the paradox of permanent traces in the deep ephemerality of urban space in development and conflict.
Meanwhile other utopias are constructed in earnest in the form of small models and paintings forming a partial proposal towards a liberated social construction. These, and other projects find space at Auto Italia over the course of a two week exhibition, working towards a negotiation of what we want from out cities, past and future – what is vital and resonant, what is dead and should remain so.