They sit huddled by the water’s edge, a subdued gathering of orange, green, magenta, blue. As the rising light glances over their reinforced steel shells, stray shadows catch at the corrugated sides, fooled by the illusion of depth. Nothing penetrates. From the sky, they are military decorations stitched across a broad grey chest.
They are being held in a marginal place, awaiting allocation. This place has a different geometry to the rest of the coast. It is functional and deliberate, comprised of careful incisions cut into the land like the inner workings of a complex lock, and a thin jetty which runs alongside, rationalising the jagged coast into a single hinged line.
Marseille’s Fos Port is a circuit board, alive with discreet intention. By day, the arriving boats jostle like eager suitors as a line of sentinel cranes pivot and bow over the concrete, shuffling units like tarot cards. The air is filled with industrial noises and the smell of petrol and salt. Every movement is dictated from a distance. By night, the mechanical dance continues. Sunshine is replaced by harsh fluorescence and torchlight. Security cameras twitch at fleeting movements as guards patrol the perimeter. Under the toxic buzz of tungsten lamps, goods are unloaded from lorries, held in stasis, then placed on a carousel and passed on to the waiting boats.
This place possesses a unique psychic energy. As a site of storage and transmission, every passing object, idea and face leaves an impression. They pool in the gutters and bloom out of the concrete, merging with the industrial landscape to form compound identities, so that the place itself, filled with so much fluctuating and fragmented matter, constitutes an altered state.
Despite the implied impregnability of steel and concrete, the site is revealed to be mostly water and therefore mutable. As a result, these impressions have a subjective quality to them. Vague images swim into focus: averted eyes, a cluster of cells, a forming wave. Ideas of what could be true, or might have been intended. Content, provenance and destination remain obscure.
Even the units themselves, each as defined and opaque as the back of a head, melt into a single, convergent mass as they are held together in this nowhere place. Their colourful stacks stretch into long, orgiastic ribbons of possible identity, pollinated by the atmosphere. Their resolute sides morph into fertile sites for projection and extrapolation as the irrepressible ocean swells beneath. (Text by Claudia Paterson)
This is a show about the edge of a night city. How things get built, how things get sold. All things have their time, peaks of activity and then the long wait for their own sad slump. The landscape turns to real estate, speculative development turns viral and things need to be put places. A mass of objects will come back to us. Stargazing is interrupted by a security torch, moonlight can’t compete. The guard dogs on the loose and it can smell your stinking fear. In this room there is a family trip, someone dreaming of a petrol station, thinking architecture, blank newspapers, empty containers, obsolete carousels forever looping, exponential growth, dying daisies, security-guard torches, pyrotechnics on the edge of an island, moonlight blue, everywhere and everything, nowhere and nothing. The container is an architectural site of things and thoughts, real and imagined objects. Most of these things are asleep; stuck in a still-life. Stuck on an island. Aside from the river of concrete that’s rolled over by people on their way to different places, this place is surrounded by an ocean of mud. From whichever direction look, it's all you can see.
North – ocean of mud North by east – ocean of mud North east by north – ocean of mud North east by east – ocean of mud East by north – ocean of mud East – ocean of mud East by south – ocean of mud South east by east – ocean of mud South east by south – ocean of mud South by east – ocean of mud South – ocean of mud South by west – ocean of mud South west by south – ocean of mud South west by west – ocean of mud West by south – ocean of mud West – ocean of mud West by north – ocean of mud North west by west – ocean of mud Northwest by north – ocean of mud