Im Bau

Solo project at Grand Union, Birmingham

2015

Im Bau was an experimental research project, commissioned by Grand Union, a gallery located in Birmingham, the second biggest city in the UK. I was invited to respond to the shifting fabric of the city of Birmingham, and to offer an artistic critique of the programme of ‘culture-led regeneration’ being imposed on the formerly industrial district in which the gallery is situated. The project was punctuated with discursive events and drew in multiple collaborators, including Geoff Bateson, a retired Urban Policy maker from Birmingham City Council and Honor Gavin, a Birmingham-born musician and the author of ‘Midland: a novel out of time’, an anarchic novel of 20th century Birmingham.

For the duration of Im Bau, the gallery held a revolving selection of curated historical materials, texts and images related laterally and literally to the cycles of demolition and reconstruction of Birmingham’s city fabric in the 20th century. The exhibition, in content and form, presented multiple, fragmentary and overlapping versions of same city. It acted both as a telescope (a viewing portal in a display panel framed a distant tower block, symbol of one stage of redevelopment) and as a microscope focusing down on granular, specific details. Archival images and documents, fragments of a long-demolished motorway and personal postcards in the exhibition became props through which viewers were invited to ascribe meanings