Material Messengers UNBUILD panel talk



6:30-8pm, Community Studio

UNBUILD: a site of possibility artists Jessie Brennan, Ian Kiaer and Tanoa Sasraku will be joined by artist and researcher Susan Schuppli to explore ways in which the materials and methodology of a widened field of drawing can evidence rather than represent reality.  Contributions to the panel will consider the impermanent, fragile, automatic and auto-destructive capacity of drawing to speak to our contemporary condition. Of what collapse/destruction are we speaking, what might we learn from it, what possibilities can it offer? The agency of materials will be explored – what can we learn from materials and how can we let materials speak for themselves?

Jessie Brennan is interested in the politics of a site and of how these are manifest in their materiality and aesthetics. To Agitate, Still (2023) Brennan’s commission for UNBUILD, is an outcome of gardening sessions with people living on the Setchell Estate and the conversations that arose from them. Brennan and residents foraged daffodil leaves that were later combined with cotton and sisal pulp to make handmade paper. At the end of the exhibition, the sheets will be distributed to the 311 households making up the Setchell Estate. Brennan intends for the legacy of her time with residents to contribute towards informing Drawing Room’s governance, to become a more inclusive organisation whose arts and culture provision serves diverse audiences.

Endnote limb, yellow sag (2023) Ian Kiaer’s commission for UNBUILD, consists of a large, inflated biomorphic form, bracketed by a wall mounted drawing. Repurposed materials, including reclaimed Plexiglass that is marked and stained, bring to the work evidence of earlier use and set up relationships between material things. By salvaging and combining discarded elements, Kiaer reminds us how physical objects speak to things imagined, thought, dreamt and touched.

Tanoa Sasraku’s A Tower to Say Goodbye (2021) is a large-scale, ‘thickened’ drawing which is suspended from the gallery ceiling.  It was made site specifically in a disused postal sorting office in west London in the weeks leading up to the building’s demolition. It was also made during the conditions of lockdown.  The drawing embodies the physical labour involved in handling and stitching such large sheets of paper and registers details of the building, such as the parquet floor on which it was made.

In ‘Impure Matter: A Forensics of WTC Dust’ Susan Schuppli suggests: ‘dust might prove productive for reading the complex social, economic, and political relations out of the material strata of our world … As a compound material substance in which radically heterogeneous materials have momentarily locked together, dust is the material witness par excellence…’ In her new book, Material Witness, Schuppli looks at history through the material strata of our world.  The book explores her interest in creating situations where materials can express their condition without simply telling a story. Her projects seek an indexical relationship beyond authorship.

About the speakers

Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in the UK, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters and climate change. She is Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths as well as affiliate artist-researcher and Board Chair of Forensic Architecture

Jessie Brennan (b. 1982, Plymouth) is an artist and educator based in London.  Her work is focused on sites, situations and situatedness, specifically the role of artists in fostering solidarities with working-class communities and their right to the city.   Recent projects include those for East Street Arts, UP Projects, Soundcamp, South London Gallery, Metal Culture, and her books include Re: development (2016) and Regeneration! (2015).

Ian Kiaer (born 1971, London, UK) is an artist based in Oxford, UK. His work is indebted to histories of painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and theory, but its central interest is repurposing: the waste, recovery and reconstitution of meaning.  Kiaer has shown his work at Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany, Kunsthalle Lingen, Lingen, Germany, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.

Tanoa Sasraku (born in 1995, Plymouth, UK), is an artist based in London. Sasraku’s practice shifts between sculpture, drawing and filmmaking. Her stitched and torn newsprint works frequently harness earth pigments and garment making processes to express ideas relating to the British landscape, the human body and the artist’s familial legacy. In her practice as a filmmaker, Sasraku engages in retellings of traditional folklore via the medium of analogue film. She has shown her work at Spike Island, Bristol, UK and at Peer, London.