‘LEGACY: FIVE SCHEMES FIRST VARIATION’
GWENAËL BÉLANGER / BLUE CURRY / KAREN HENDERSON / JAMES McLARDY / RICHARD STONE
CURATED BY CARL SLATER
High Cross House in Dartington, managed by the National Trust is one of the UK’s most important modernist sites for contemporary buildings. Designed by Swiss-American architect William Lescaze, and originally implemented as a ‘machine for living’ for William Curry in 1932, it now exists as a historically relevant museum – not only of its own architecture and design but also as a newly figured exhibition space for contemporary arts.
‘Five Schemes, First Variation’ is an exhibition involving five international and emerging artists that makes play with the setting of this iconic modernist house set within a place that has historic significance in the development and examination of contemporary ideas. The motivation behind this curated body of work is to suggest the potential in developing new ‘systems’ of display and to acknowledge that by placing contemporary art within this environment, care is to be taken to consider the character and integrity of the building, allowing works to be re-presented and others implemented as newly conceived ideas. The placing of work within a modernist space that echoes powerful resonances and order, creates an overall effect far greater than the individual elements within its walls. All works are pitched somewhere between the notions of domesticity, conceptual agenda and the philosophy of an international modernist movement – rooted to formalities and restraints, ‘inheriting’ a legacy of historical and rigid frameworks, made now to be refined and challenged.
As long as there is on-going consideration as to where art belongs, realising the difference between public and private spaces, High Cross House will continue as a unique venue for the display of contemporary arts. The National Trust has taken up the mantle of the future care and use of High Cross House in accordance with architectural philosophy and design intentions, where the transposition of a private house into the public domain is an operation that has tested the National Trust almost constantly over its history.
The selection of KARST and its curator, Carl Slater, to implement this exhibition is a bold move to test new directions in the development of contemporary practice. Slater is experienced in forming projects that respond to the essence of architectural space and has a firm grasp on the objectives and landscape of his contemporaries. With the emergence of the interior, concept and experience, and architecture’s trajectories toward modernism, these five schemes of contemporary presentations are not only playful within their new location but also unavoidable and recognisable in demanding and configuring space.