Renata Lucas - Resident
15 November 2007 - 13 January 2008
155 Vauxhall Street
On approaching Gasworks I took the opportunity to ring the bell situated to the left hand side of the door to the Gasworks complex. I was greeted by a rather tall and slim individual who asked what I wanted. My colleagues had assured me that there was a show on and so I enquired thus 'Hi, is there a show on?' To which the tall and slim man answered yes and that this was it stepping outside of the gallery and pointing to the left hand wall. Here we observed a rhythmic reconstruction of the fascia wall to the left of the gallery door. What seemed to be previously the loading bay for the gallery space (two large wall length opening doors) had been bricked up and reconfigured. Not only was the wall rebuilt to create a small enclave outside but even better this enclave championed a small radiator. Of course! Why would there be a radiator outside? We touched the radiator (as it was quite a cold night) and it was indeed on and working, pumping heat out into the night.
According to the press release that we obtained, Lucas a Brazilian born artist is interested in 'an analysis of the commissioned site, often observing the social information embedded within buildings and particularly their boundaries.' This could not have been more subtly dominant within the workings of this piece. In order to understand 'Resident' you have to articulate the surrounding area as becoming part of the work. Gasworks a large Victorian Warehouse is situated on a road dominated by large blocks of flats, and for geographical reference a mere stone throw from Oval cricket ground. The juxtaposition of industrialization and residential habitation is not uncommon on the streets of London, in fact it is often the norm'. Here, Lucas highlights this architectural moment by subverting the use of the average house-hold radiator. How can a radiator outside be useful to anyone other than those living rough? Is this Lucas commenting on the global issue of homelessness, or alternatively is Lucas simply turning the interior, exterior? Faced with these questions it is easy to stand there and admire the work as a clever defacement of a established art space. Equally this could be a subtle comment from Lucas that art should help in the production of solutions to our social problems.
By suggesting this role reversal of interior / exterior object hood we encounter a perplexed shift in our understanding of the gallery space and the use of it to discuss the constructs of contemporary art. We also have to start observing a piece of work such as this within the conditions of street furniture and public art - as the remit alters from the typical gallery institutionalization. This is why 'Resident' can be seen to be so successful in what it does. It maneuvers our presupposed ideas into a realm or even surroundings unconventionally disjointed from what we are experiencing. We wouldn't bat an eye at the placement of a traffic light or street sign inside the gallery space, in fact we'd except it and with already acquired knowledge understand it to be quite acceptable and tangible to place such items within the gallery space. Yet, why when inside objects are placed outside, such as this, do we find it difficult to validate? I could state the Lucas is harking back to early surrealist sculptural work here or even better 'Resident' could well be a inside-out comment on Duchamps urinal. To certify its existence within the hierarchy of art production, 'Resident' can be viewed as not just a radiator in the open but a complex interior/exterior ready-made. As Duchamp wanted us to re-evaluate the role of the every day within the gallery space Lucas is almost begging us to re-evaluate the role of the everyday within the everyday.