1 JULY – 30 OCTOBER 2021
ORFORD NESS, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND
Any experience of Orford Ness is inseparable from the weather. Over the course of an hour, as the wind sweeps over from the North Sea, the atmosphere shifts from benign to sublime, uplifting to unsettling.
Abandoned structures and buildings scattered across the coastal strip of land attest to what happened there through much of the 20th century, when it was known locally as the ‘island of secrets’. A range of radar, communications and weapons systems were installed and tested on Orford Ness, including the Atomic Weapons research program in the early years of the Cold War.
Visitors sense how this strange territory has been shaped by a wide range of forces. The coastline is eroding, and a unique eco-system has developed on the shingle ridges, with rare flora and fauna enduring successive human impositions.
Inspired by this extraordinary environment, Artangel has invited a number of significant international figures from the fields of literature, music, sculpture, drawing, and photography to imagine new ways of engaging with the intermingling systems and histories of Orford Ness, bringing them alive to a wide range of visitors.
Tatiana Trouvé realizes a new sculptural installation in Lab 1, a derelict structure built in the 1960s for weapons testing, now open to the elements, overgrown with vegetation and partly underwater.
Within this ruin (which more than anything resembles the ‘zone’ in Tarkovsky’s Stalker), Trouvé composes a constellation of sculptural objects that appear to be vestiges of a community that once found refuge in the building. Scattered across the water-logged interior, the sculptures resemble familiar, functional objects; blankets and chairs, books, and recording equipment.
Most of the objects are cast in concrete or metal, some carved in stone, the surfaces reworked by hand. Diagrams of geological, ecological or mapping systems are embedded into the surface of the blankets, appearing to connect them to the immediate environment of Orford Ness.
Nettles and weeds have grown through holes in the blankets; nature is reclaiming what humankind has abandoned. Partly submerged and reflected in a basin of rainwater, a large geological form resembling a ‘scholar’s rock’ reflects in a basin of water, suggesting a lost belief system. We are in the aftermath of some unknown event.
Shifting the familiar into unstable territory, Trouvé’s uncanny sculptural ensemble oscillates between the real, the imaginary, and the phantasmic.
Trouvé’s new commission forms part of a larger Artangel project across Orford Ness that also includes: ARTANGEL
Artangel produces and presents extraordinary art in unexpected places. For over 30 years, Artangel has generated memorable experiences for audiences across the UK including projects with Clio Barnard, Jeremy Deller, PJ Harvey, Roni Horn, Miranda July, Mike Kelley, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, and Rachel Whiteread.
Recent Artangel projects include Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss, a performance with professional mourners from 11 countries around the world, Evan Roth’s Red Lines network, Jonathan Glazer’s lockdown film Strasbourg 1518 and Steve McQueen’s Year 3, an epic portrait of London made with over 75,000 London children in collaboration with Tate Britain and A New Direction.
In 2016, by agreement with the Ministry of Justice, Artangel opened up Reading Prison for an acclaimed exhibition involving some 20 international artists and writers, each responding to the prison architecture and the writing of its most well-known inmate, Oscar Wilde.
Appearing anywhere from quarries to power stations, high streets and railway stations, on daytime TV and in the sky at night, Artangel produces art that transforms unusual spaces, takes surprising new forms, and offers absorbing experiences for enquiring audiences.
© Images Emile Kelly