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#19

Vicky Falconer was born in Newcastle in 1979
She studied at Edinburgh, 1998 - 2003
She lives and works in Edinburgh

A pink, grey and black box wall protrudes from the left hand wall raised upon wooden legs. A large instruction is painted on the end wall in a gothic script. Objects are placed upon the floor, leant against the walls, and screwed or taped up. These include a sequined top, poles, tubes, a chair back, a trestle, darts and bits of scrap board. A large wooden bench sits against a wall and curves away. Two paintings present us with misty, dreamlike views of modernist buildings. A circular plywood board is nailed to the wall. Pink, black and grey dominate.


A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Vicky Falconer at Outpost on 30th May 2006.

Kaavous Clayton: You have referred to your exhibition at OUTPOST as a playground. Did you mean a playground for yourself or for the audience?

Vicky Falconer: Both, although I initially conceived of it as the remnants of a fictional scene or happening - in other words a playground for an imaginary participant, or participants, rather than myself or an audience. The raised floor on the right hand side of the space was originally going to be raised at one end like a ramp, but I took the decision in situ that I wanted it to be something that visitors could interact with. In making a flat platform, people can sit on it and participate in the installation. In that sense, then, it has become to a certain degree a 'playground' for the audience. This is something that I haven't really explored in my work previously. With regards to it being a playground for myself, I'm not really sure. My work is very much reliant on me being immersed in the process of constructing an environment - and experimenting with the way that elements are configured within that. I've had a week's installation period, which is quite long, so within that time one builds up a dialogue with the different materials and objects - which is specific to the space, and different from any context they've had before - in the studio for example. I want in some ways the environments I construct to have something of a dreamlike quality. By projecting something like that onto a space, the main reference point you have is your own fantasy. So, yes, in several ways it might be considered that I have constructed a playground for myself. I did at one point wonder what relevance the fact that I used a piece of clothing in the installation that belonged to myself had, and whether if it had not belonged to me whether that would give it a bit of a different meaning. So perhaps I've just answered that for myself.

KC: The environment or set you've created has taken as its starting point two specific modernist buildings, Eileen Gray's E1027 and Cardross Seminary. Why did you home in on these buildings in particular?

VF: My work has used research about specific examples of architecture as a reference point for some time. The last two projects I've done my research on have focused on specifically modernist buildings. The last one I was looking at was the Villa Noailles in France, and prior to that I was looking at the Casa Malaparte in Italy, which featured in Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mepris. I see this show in some senses as the third in a related trilogy. I decided to use E1027 and Cardross Seminary partly because I had been interested in them for some time, but had never actually incorporated them into any pieces of work. In addition to that however, for this show I'd started to think a lot about transgressive acts and their association with abandoned buildings. I'd been reading quite a bit about Bataille and other writers who talk about the connection between violence and architecture. It seemed a logical progression from thinking about loss and melancholy, and how these specific narratives could be seen as a metaphor for this in the wider human experience. It seemed that E1027 and Cardross seminary were particularly striking examples of the way that buildings have been the sites of violation. After Eileen Gray died, the house fell into the hands of a Swiss doctor who is said to have enjoyed dabbling in the darker side of life. He was murdered there after a party. Cardross Seminary has been the site of raves and so on for the last twenty years since it ceased to be used as a seminary, and usually gets set on fire every other week or so. It is now a meeting point on Saturday nights by the locally notorious 'Cardross Young Fleet'. Presumably they weren't responsible for the Le Corbusier quote next to the altar. Interestingly enough, I discovered that Bataille had initially trained as a priest at a seminary in France, but gave up so he could write the Story of the Eye. I suppose what I'm interested in is stories that are associated with architecture, as much as the buildings themselves, and using these narratives as starting points to explore our relationship with our own histories. It's for this reason that I think the buildings I have been attracted to have always been 'domestic' in the sense that they have been occupied as a dwelling. In some ways the research aspects of what I do may seem long-winded or convoluted. The way that I see it, however, is that I'm just naturally predisposed to taking an interest in these kinds of things, not all of that will end up, or needs to end up, finding its way into my work. It's just a vehicle actually enabling me to make work about something. Whether it remains being about that thing is immaterial.

KC: Sorry, I wasn't really listening. Could you say that again please.

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