Unreal Estates is an exhibition about home, and what it means to live in a place.
‘Witty, critical, thought-provoking and sparking off unexpected synergies’
‘Clearly a joyous thing’
Six artists have each been working with a fiction writer to respond to properties on the market within a mile of Homefinders Estate Agents, where the exhibition takes place. Their new collaborative works examine ideas of domesticity, psychological interiority, emotional space, and private histories.
Each individual artwork or text can be read as a standalone work, yet additionally complements its counterpart as collaboration. But even on top of that, when gathered together, the images and texts can be read another way. They also record the multiplicity, the textures, the dreams, imagination and memories of this city, now.
The homogenised aesthetic of property-as-asset is contrasted with the exquisitely rich and deeply personal interiors of fictional homes created by artists and writers.
As quoted by Hackney Citizen:
“You can read the exhibition as exactly what it is on the surface – a group exhibition of high quality work about domestic interiors. Indeed, the whole experience is nothing without the clever and delightful contributions of the artists and writers. It’s perfectly fine to leave it there. But when you turn it over and look at it a different way, it becomes something else. And you can carry on turning it and looking at it, and all these different interpretations and allusions interweave and fan out, into the wider city.”
Viewing the artworks and texts from varying perspectives works as a kind of metaphor for the different scales of experience of the city:
Moving Out of the White Cube
Contemporary art requires a ‘frame’; when moving out of the usual white cube, it’s critical to build a new frame. I think arts audiences were initially sceptical about its location in a high street estate agency – a scepticism dispelled once realising that the location is very much part of the context.
Visiting during the day, the boundary between art space and commercial space is surprisingly indistinct. The agency were remarkably welcoming to the ideas of the exhibition (e.g. critiquing property as investment):
– Hayder Sehri, Director of Homefinders
It confounded both artists and audience that (generally-reviled) estates agents can in fact be generous and open-minded – which is indeed part of the point.
Rather than reducing the housing crisis to pantomime villains, Unreal Estates portrays it as a systemic and imaginative societal problem.
What the Artists Thought
Finally, I’ve been overwhelmed by the goodwill and positivity of those involved, even peripherally, to bringing the project together (special thanks to Marco and Leon ❤️) To close, then, here is a selection of (occasionally hyperbolic, but I think still genuine) feedback I’ve received from artists and writers.
Outstanding project. Fascinating and innovative concept, responsively managed, a very interesting set of artists and writers. Final project was a joy to behold.
A complex exhibition idea with linked website … tackled in an exceptionally skilful, timely and carefully planned manner… a great show which brings together artists and writers and a local business in a novel, dynamic and exciting way.
The organisation/logistics of it all was spectacular. At all times it felt like I was aboard a sturdy ship with a keen-eyed navigator, well-equipped sails and people who knew how to tie all the right kind of knots, all captained by the most seaworthy of captains. All those people, and the sails, and the knots, were Amanda.