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Always container,
sometimes contained

Greatorex Street

10 Greatorex St, London E1 5NF

21 - 25 May 2024

​Haijia Blair Luo
​Lan Ying


Zoe De Caluwé
Betty C Fan
Isabel Gonzalez
Anna Ill
Sophia Rivera-Montanes
Steven Scott
Nicolaas van de Lande
Zhu Guanhai

Sol Santana
Lin Ji


“Always container, sometimes contained, the house serves Bachelard as the portals to metaphors of imagination.”    

– John R. Stilgoe


The exhibition features artists using found objects, fibre, images, and sound to create a visual record that touches on themes of homescapes, inhabitance, and spatialised time. Just as Gaston Bachelard sees the house as the portal to metaphors of imagination in The Poetics of Space, ‘Always container, sometimes contained’ presents a site of contingent relations where interiors and exteriors can be reversed, a space full of reverie and imaginings, a portal that opens to "vastness of place while at the same time admitting within a vast inverse."


Zoe De Caluwé's practice encompasses sculpture, painting, and found objects. By juxtaposing the nature of these objects, their works find an in-between space where identities are expanded, particularly in their work Busted, where the physical substance serves as a portal to personal narratives. Similarly, Anna Ill explores the transformative nature of disoriented objects. Her practice focuses on the concepts of vulnerability, memory, and the body as one’s own house through sculptures incorporating textiles. She is interested in how textiles seek to “escape” the limits of the objects and contain no previous memory, in contrast to the hardness and the inherent meanings of the objects used. Also incorporating textiles, Sol Santana’s performance-installation addresses the transgression of borders that occurs in both outer and inner experiences. As the artist moves between spaces while holding a red thread that they attach to different spots, the performance explores the parallel between moving across lands in the physical world as a migrant body and transitioning gender in the inner landscape as a queer person.

In Sophia Rivera-Montanes's painting, the theme of home is represented through her use of layered watercolour washes. She repeatedly applies and removes the paint, revealing hidden moments from personal places and memories that are fragile and incomplete. Her painting acts as a portal that disrupts a sense of time and space, transporting one to somewhere distant, a moment of daydream and reverie. Home is also central to Nicolaas van de Lande’s practice, as it embodies our most fundamental emotional bond with reality. In his painting technique, van de Lande utilises electrostatic flocking, a manufacturing method that gives surfaces a furry and highly tactile fibre substrate. This unique approach renders images with physicality, evoking a sense of security reminiscent of the soft materials we find at home. Simultaneously, it creates an eerie and illusory effect. Combined with incomplete imagery suggestive of narratives, his work reflects the complex and multifaceted realities associated with the concept of home. For Isabel Gonzalez, her house-like pieces are imagined as what it would be like to inhabit them, envisioned as spaces for the future, perhaps sacred in nature. Echoing historical mounds, each sculpture was created from locally sourced natural materials with a rich history of prehistoric settlements. In a union, they explore the primordial bond between humans and nature and reflect on displacement and the search for belonging.

Probing perceptions of represented space, Steven Scott's dual photography frames liminal thresholds where visual perception gives way to protention. The photograms allude to the doubled sequence representing parallax movement and the doubled image of the stereoscopic spatial photograph, inviting viewers to explore the complex interplay of visibility and interpretation. In Zhu Guanhai's Downstairs in Winter, space and time are shown to have elasticity; the past, present, and future become less sequential and can be moved and assembled like building blocks in a Jenga game. Both artists explore the concept of spatialised time in different dimensions, showcasing how time is distributed in space.

Sound also plays a crucial role as the medium in these explorations of movement and space. In her sculpture-performance series Unknown on Play, Betty C Fan orchestrates sound and materials within a constrained, grid-like structure. The sculpture's under-construction state suggests constant evolution. Through this evolving state, combined with vocal and sound layering and the ongoing performance series, she conveys identity as perpetually becoming rather than arriving and opens a window into the fluid processes of cultural negotiation and interpretation. Lin Ji’s performance, An Apocalyptic Dream, explores the tangible container and the intangible space the container holds. Through destruction and reconstruction, the music is freed and reimagined. Ultimately, the artist's body becomes the creative vessel, wielding the absent object with its lingering presence, breaking down conventional structures and releasing the latent potential within.

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