The Contemporary Fine Art course: Anna Harding & Vaughan Melzer - 3D virtual exhibition by The Essential School of Painting

The Contemporary Fine Art course: Anna Harding & Vaughan Melzer

Tue, 09/07/2021 to Mon, 02/07/2022

curated by:

I’m interested in the tenuous and unstable nature of things left behind. These could be artefacts, memories or places, all of which are subject to constant reinterpretation and appropriation, from a range of subjectivities and vantage points.

In the Abandoned Office series, I wanted to create a presence which resonates with contemporary malaise. Thousands of offices stand empty. What remains? An abandoned playground where the rules go.

I started the Abandoned Office series early in 2021, deep into the second COVID-19 lockdown.
Over recent years I visited many commercial/industrial buildings in East London when firms have moved out, scoping potential studio sites for artists.

I felt for the loss of previous occupants, the forlorn spaces exude melancholy, thoughts of people who spent their working lives here and had left, their skills and work routines redundant with changes in technology or industry decline. Camaraderie and shared endeavour have also suffered loss.

In the afterglow of saccharine ceiling tiles, nicotine-stained carpet tiles, wood veneer, in-trays and archive storage boxes, office furnishings take on a life of their own. Abandoned relics have lost their purpose and familiar makeshift spaces are seen in a new light after the occupants have left.

COVID-19 left thousands of offices abandoned, a cipher for the human condition. Despite advances, we are vulnerable to pandemics and global economic shifts.

Precarity and fragility are highlighted by COVID. Value systems such as office culture that were props in peoples’ lives vanished overnight, the artifice is exposed.

Perhaps they symbolise that the human endeavour that took place here was all a fiction?
Given that external reality is a fiction, the writer's role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there - JG Ballard

The series also coincided with my decision to quit an office based job to pursue my own art practice.

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