Remember when, as a child, you used to create imaginary rooms from anything you could find. Perhaps you collected old wood and built a house in the garden or in the tree; perhaps you used the dining room table, piled chairs and other furniture around it and hung sheets or tablecloths over it to create protective walls around your own personal place, a space in which, for a while, you could let your imagination run free, only allowing anyone in that you really wanted, and then, when finished, dismantling and returning everything back to normal, ready to create something different on another day.
At Sadie Coles HQ in London, Laura Lord has curated installations, sculptures and photographs from female artists on the theme of the Room, reflecting different physical environments and also the different emotional and psychological effects that the rooms generate.
Joanna Piotrowka photographs one of these rooms created by furniture – but why does an adult feel he needs the protection of such an environment? - while Marianne Vitale builds a two-storey outhouse from old wood, but with a sinister edge that suggests it might be a prison or an impoverished rural home in the woods. Did the occupants chose to live here, or where they forced?
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd creates a transportable colourful garden room from recycled materials, open and inviting, but with the ability to close the door at night, Rachel Feinstein’s shack is a piece of scenery in which the occupants will always be on show as if in a performance, Sarah Lucas’s flimsy structure encloses a room for smoking, traditionally a very masculine environment, its walls lined with nicotine-stained newspapers full of tabloid news and Andrea Zittel’s shiny steel mobile home is adapted from a floatation tank – a survival capsule for the modern world.
Memories are kept in different ways: Andra Ursuta has a model of the kitchen from her childhood home, while Heidi Bucher’s recreates the three dimensional space of her father’s study with hanging walls made of latex sheets and Beverly Buchanan’s sculptures evoke the poverty and also the happiness of shacks and family homes in the southern state of the USA.
Photographers such as Francesca Woodman capture rooms in time. A room in Rome which was once elegant is now decaying: – is this the start of a new life for the room, or the will it continue to decay? – and Penny Slinger has another empty room – a library in which all the books have gone with clocks at different times perhaps indicating the endless and continual march of time.
Finally, such an exhibition would not be complete without one of Louise Bourgeois’ Cell’s, here with an elongated head within a metal cage. Is this a prison cell or is it a protective space? Perhaps it is both….