Human interactions and urban rituals explored at Unknown Territory

SET London on the opening night of ‘Unknown Territory.’ Pic: Ella Smith

A group exhibition exploring the complexities of daily life and the remnants of industrial living opened its doors yesterday at a community arts centre in Lewisham Retail Park.

The exhibition Unknown Territory is hosted in the gallery space of the arts charity SET, and brings together the creative endeavours of artists Alex Stone, Ben Topping, and Valentino Vannini.

Through their respective practices, the artists aim to blur the lines between art and space, inviting viewers to contemplate the intricacies of human existence within the context of the gallery environment.

Stone, Topping, and Vannini employ a variety of materials, including concrete, lipstick, copper, and hair, to create an immersive installation focused on the search for intimacy in an increasingly industrialised world.

On the opening night, Vannini specifically cited cruising grounds as an inspiration for his work. He told Eastlondonlines: “I always look at cruising grounds as a way to investigate resilience, resistance, defiance, which are key for marginalized groups. And in this instance, I’m using this mesh, which comes from building sites, like at the end of a parking lot or in between a fence, maybe a railing.

“There are places that are in a way liminal and abandoned and for that reason they can be reclaimed, and sometimes minority reclaimed spaces.”

Drawing inspiration from the formal arrangement of the gallery space and utilising grids as a foundational motif, the artists aim to spark dialogue about urban rituals and the ways in which they shape our collective experience. Visitors are encouraged to engage with the installation from both afar, observing from the street, and up close, exploring the intricate details within the gallery walls.

Vannini told ELL about the unique gallery space and the opportunity to play with that: “For my piece, I was particularly looking at the space in terms of the grid. There’s this grid on the floor; there’s this grid through the windows. And then I was thinking about the pillars, so I was responding to the pillars and kind of making a play with them.”

The exhibition runs until February 18 and is open Thursday to Sunday between 12 pm and 6 pm. For those eager to embark on this artistic voyage, mark your calendars and immerse yourself in the realm of Unknown Territory.

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