Dark Places uncovers sites of secrecy and technology across Britain. Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst, the exhibition presents new artists’ works that explore spaces and institutions below the radar of common knowledge.
The Office of Experiments’ (OOE) Overt Research Project sets a background by mapping and recording advanced labs and facilities that are unwittingly – or purposefully – concealed from public view. The work features an interpretive slideshow and a field guide to local sites through an information kiosk. Elsewhere in the gallery, OOE brings together The Mike Kenner Archive, revealing years of campaigning by one man into the public biochemical warfare experiments conducted by Porton Down (Salisbury).
Victoria Halford and Steve Beard’s film Voodoo Science Park traces a secret geography of the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, where train crashes and industrial accidents are re-created to examine their destructive pathways. Mixing fact and fiction, the film imagines a delayed encounter between poet William Blake and political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, drawing affinities to this unique site.
Beatriz da Costa’s A Memorial for the Still Living is a sombre reflection on endangered species of the British Isles. Presenting a selection of rare animal, insect and reptile specimens, including loans from the Natural History and Horniman Museums, da Costa identifies these collections – and the bleak future they imply – as ‘dark places’ of zoological science.
Steve Rowell, a collaborator with the US-based group the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), in his solo project Ultimate High Ground UK, uncovers shared US-UK spaces of military power. Realised as a multiscreen video installation, the work focuses upon RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, a satellite ground station and communications intercept site, known for its distinctive radome structures. For further information about the artist visit www.steverowell.com
Dark Places is revealed in greater depth in a filmed artists’ interview, on show throughout and a special Dark Places publication, featuring a new essay by writer and critic Sally O’Reilly.
Dark Places is commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and co-curated with the Office of Experiments, John Hansard Gallery and SCAN. The Office of Experiments’ Overt Research Project is supported by UCL Department of Geography and The Media School, Bournemouth University, led by Neal White with Steve Rowell and Lisa Haskel.