It’s not who you are, it’s how you are

Atomik Architecture, Gateshead, 2016


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The BALTIC Ryder Commission brought together an artist with an emerging architectural practice to produce a co-authored artwork which was displayed in BALTIC’s Level 2 gallery.

The commission to work with an emerging artist at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art as part of the Baltic Ryder Commission series gave us an unusually open brief, and an opportunity to put into practice some of our thinking about creative relationships.

We paired up with Alice Theobald, whose practice often references clichés and ‘slippages’ in language. This appealed to our sense of the uncanny, but also seemed to offer the potential to explore broader ideas about how we inhabit space. The finished installation takes familiar, domestic materials – in this case fifty three duvets – and uses them to enclose a series of vaguely unsettling spaces, structured by circular timber towers. Applied texts, projections – of pre-recorded sequences improvised by actors live on the central platform of the installation created further disorientation, upsetting the boundaries between performer and viewer.

Our co-authored work evolved through a process of studio visits, workshops, model-making and drawing. It took the form of an ambitious site-specific installation comprising sound, video and live performance. Interested in the interiors of Austrian-Czech architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933) and the idea of accessing a space through multiple viewpoints, we constructed a series of circular rooms which provided a route through the architecture, pacing the visitors’ experience. Drawing on Anthony Vidler’s book The Architecture of the Uncanny (1992), they created a series of familiar, yet unsettling spaces, lining the rooms with everyday materials, texts and projections. A platform slicing through the gallery became a stage for a series of part-choreographed, part-improvised performances; an accompanying musical score explored the circularity and slippage of language and the interplay between performer and viewer. The production ran for 4 months in 2016.


  • Begun: Jan 2016
  • Completed: Apr 2016
  • Floor area: 110m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £50,000
  • Funding: The commission was jointly funded by Ryder and BALTIC with the prize money donated by Ibstock
  • Tender date: Nov 2015
  • Procurement: Bespoke
  • CO2 Emissions: -kg/m2/year
  • Address: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, S Shore Rd, Gateshead, NE8 3BA, United Kingdom

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