Ryan Gander has often chosen intriguing environments over traditional galleries to exhibit his work. His 2011 ‘Locked Room Scenario’ installation, created for Artangel was immediately unnerving. Having been ushered through the gates of a Hoxton warehouse (by appointment only) Gander, often described as a storyteller, cast the viewer in the lead role, and obliged them to take part in an uncertain but definitely sinister plot.
Taking as his inspiration from the furniture and fittings that Ernö Goldfinger designed for 2 Willow Road, Gander has created new works that are exhibited interspersed with the permanent collection in what was the former Modernist home of this iconic architect.
Goldfinger was a Hungarian-born architect and designer of furniture who is most notably remembered for his residential tower blocks, part of the government’s attempt to solve the housing shortage after World War II. Among his best known buildings were the 27-floor Balfron Tower in the East End and the 31-floor Trellick Tower in North Kensington which are both fine examples of Brutalist architecture.
This is not the first time that Gander has been inspired by the work of Ernö Goldfinger, back in 2011 The Russian Club Gallery presented Ernö Goldfinger v Groucho Marx, an exhibition by Gander and furniture designer Michael Marriott. Holding the sometimes-Brutalist architect and furniture designer Erno Goldfinger in high esteem, with both artists having referenced him in previous projects; he was part of the glue of Modern life that tied various streams of interest together for them both and is the anchor around which this exhibition has evolved. Gander’s piece; LAX, was a re-presentation of one of his highly esteemed Loose-Association lectures – a series that began ten years ago and performed at The Whitechapel Gallery also in 2011.
One audio-visual work in the exhibition (A flawed and wounded man bleeding frames onto a page) is a performance of a children’s book written by Gander, entitled The Boy Who Always Looked Up, about Goldfinger’s relationship to Trellick Tower. The work is a dramatic radio play, filmed in a professional recording studio, incorporating a live performance by foley artists using sound effect props to accompany the narrative.
Goldfinger designed 2 Willow Road for himself and his family in 1939 and the house contains the Goldfingers’ impressive collection of modern art, intriguing personal possessions and innovative furniture. His ground-breaking design details still feel fresh today and Gander’s works draw on the objects designed and assembled by the Goldfinger family. Anyone with a family is motivated by money, for example, is a self-assembly moneybox designed and made using the same slot-together technique used by Elizabeth Goldfinger for the lounge chairs in 2 Willow Road itself.
Ryan Gander’s complex and unfettered conceptual practice is stimulated by queries, investigations or what-ifs, rather than strict rules or limits. Gander is a cultural magpie in the widest sense, polymathically taking popular notions apart only to rebuild them in new ways. His work involves a questioning of language and knowledge, a reinvention of the modes of appearance and creation of an artwork.
Ryan Gander: The artists have the keys 2 Willow Road, Hampstead, London NW3 1TH from Saturday 1st March – Sunday 2nd November 2014. Please check opening times before visiting.