University of Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
Participants: Gaia Rosenberg Colorni, Gwilym Sainsbury

Starting with the same base materials for their public space installations, Gwilym Sainsbury and Gaia Rosenberg Colorni co-curate the OnCampus project after a year-long collaboration, while arguably facilitating their markers’ task by retaining individual artistic authorship for their respective degree show pieces. While studio spaces are meticulously polished to temporarily act as exhibition venues, somewhat emulating the white cube gallery archetype, visitors of the shows as well as passers-by are often not encouraged to consider the surrounding environment and the residual, neglected spaces that it harbours.

The project aims at utilising two different patches of the University of Leeds campus to host temporary site-specific installations by EOP participants, coinciding with the 2011 BA and MA/MFA degree shows as well as a period of extensive landscaping works by the University. Each campus section will be seized for the entire duration of the exhibitions to recreate a public space which both adds to and critiques common conceptions of the university campus as a form of public space in itself.

Three weeks later, Gaia Rosenberg Colorni exhibits in the tarmaced area of the back of 5-7 Lifton building, one of the two venues hosting the 2011 MA/MFA degree show One Eye See (1st – 6th July). She collects and recycles her collaborator’s trees and benches for a related installation, this time preserved within the airtight walls of a container.

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Every year, as a result of increased need of space within Leeds University’s Fine Art department during the degree shows and assessments’ period, the container has been hired and utilised as a storage area for unwanted studio furniture and artworks alike.

In mobile mini, the artist transforms this duly inaccessible and privately contracted object into a public albeit secluded space to be discovered by passers-by.

Left image: Concerns were raised regarding theft or vandalism by others, June 2011

Right image: Mobile mini, July 2011

The garden seating space remained installed on the lawn constantly for the degree show period, including closing hours; during this time EOP participants monitored and documented public interaction with it whilst refraining from intervening in any potential ‘misuse’ of the space. Any ‘theft or vandalism by others’, a reason for concern regarding the installation’s presence as mentioned in an email from Estate Services representatives to the artist, are hence allowed to become an integral part of the work.

Concerns were raised regarding theft or vandalism by others, by Gwilym Sainsbury, is exhibited from 9th to 16th June as part of Keep Left (BA degree show) on the grounds facing the Old Mining Building at Leeds University. The installation, a combination of six trees and three benches, is arranged in a formation suggesting to passers-by that the lawn has become a small, park-like seating area, and invites them to use the artwork as a public space within the privately owned and regulated campus of Leeds University.

The restrictions enforced on the installation by the University’s Estate services, however, dictate that the trees cannot be planted, and that the benches cannot be installed permanently. This temporary set up, displaying trees in plant pots and easily removable benches, produces a form of uneasiness underlying its otherwise typically institutional design. Questions are implied about the intended use and authorship of the installation, whether it is a genuine public space, an exclusive space for a staged event, or simply an unfinished project by the University’s gardening services.

The container as microcosmic formation, ranging in uses from a self-contained residential habitat to an office space, a shipping tool or a storage solution, epitomises a dialectic between transience and permanence, inside and outside, public and private.

Through reflection on the multi-faceted nature of this commodity, mobile mini tests the spatial dynamics of the container as both an exhibition space and an integral feature of the exhibited artwork itself.

Plants are now incorporated in a specially designed indoor lawn formation which, equipped with artificially sourced light and breeze, grants visitors a moment of contrived privacy and contemplation.

The hybrid, vivarium-like environment which is constructed simulates the aesthetic of the surrounding park-like campus landscape, while combining elements of modularity which are proper to container’s space itself.

Various views of installation:

Installation in use during Leeds University’s Fine Art Ba exhibition:

Related projects:

QR Code Plaque Interventions. June 2011