Strike Site brings together a number of artworks created in response to the current refugee crisis. Spanning several rooms of former factory Backlit, the pieces evoke contrasting feelings of stubborn presence and fleeting transportability. Seeking refuge from the snow, we followed curator and Chair of the Board of New Contemporaries Sacha Craddock on a tour around the exhibition...
On entering the first room of Strike Site, an overwhelming obstacle dwarfs your presence. Jack Killick’s Buffer is a towering cube of wood, painted to appear like metal. This bleak sculpture had a performance element on the opening night, moving erratically towards viewers.
Brian Griffiths’ Very Small Partial brings the empty tent of a refugee camp into a claustrophobic space. The sculpture evokes a hastily constructed temporary home; blocking your path with melancholy stained canvas.
Moving from the experiential to the visual, Anna Fasshauer’s Flagge is an aluminium relief of a greyscale German flag unfurling. Made especially for Backlit, it represents the increasingly divided opinions within Germany regarding its border control – and the fear that public feeling could slide dangerously one way. Fittingly, this piece actually became stuck in transit on its way from Berlin.
Ana Cvorovic’s multi-media installation Drop Down/Back Up portrays a transient but static place. It incorporates paintings of refugee camps on tarpaulins, and explores the negative effects of being stuck in limbo – and in poverty. The safety bars tell of the heaviness of both body and mind.
Created on site, Alice Hartley’s It’s Gonna Rain is a violent painting spanning the wall and floor. Reminiscent of maps and boundaries, orange represents the hope of life jackets and blue the depth of the ocean. Siobhan Hapaska’s tactile Bird had different connotations for everyone. Humming “like a good sculpture does”, this fibreglass, concrete cloth and stainless piece seemed caught halfway between animal and machine. Like all the works, it buzzed with anxious movement.
The theme of refuge reflects in the circumstances of the exhibition itself. Sacha spoke of the tricky process of moving the sculptures from site to site and making a home for them. Backlit is a unique environment to experience Strike Site, offering an almost apocalyptic backdrop to the works. From the cracks in the floors to the biting chill, the pieces feel more real here than in a white cube.
Strike Site runs at Backlit until Sunday 8 April 2018. Visit free on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 12pm-5pm. Wednesday and Thursday is by appointment only.