Yuri Pattison had a tough act to follow. The last exhibition at Chisenhale saw Maria Eichhorn close the space for a number of weeks and taking her exploration of institutional structures to the next level, instructed all the staff to stay away and explore their own projects and other areas of interest. Perhaps directly tackling the void left by her, Pattison has brought the office into the gallery.
The space is divided by walled screens, a long trestle table stretches along the room. There are office chairs scattered semi-regularly and another projected at life-size. Other screens relay CCTV footage of another office space. Shelving units have been set up suggesting more warehouse storage than clean bookshelves. In the far corner an oasis of plants create a little space softened by bean bags; it makes for an ideal spot to read the commissioned short story by Nora N. Khan that accompanies the exhibition.
Pattison has been recipient of the Chisenhale Gallery Create Residency for eighteen months. This large scale installation is his response to that position and his exploration of the increasing acceptance of the blurring of work/life balance. Taking a lead from science fiction and a working parallel to the nearby East London Tech City, the artist queries the ideals of these developments.
LED lights in the gallery are programmed at a sequence that speeds up the working day and interrupted night; he asks are the politics and evolution of these workspaces and start ups sound? Are we failing to acknowledge the strain and harm in these scenarios now, to better strive toward the imagined future as depicted in dated sci-fi texts?
I found few answers in this show and left with many more questions. The introductory text talks of Pattison's interest in transparency; contemporary working methods, business models and more - where this installation left me was somewhere more opaque. He may well be right, certainly to question our modern ways but more seriously, that we can already conclude some of these practises are already too intrusive. That so much is written of digital detoxing at the moment this show is prescient and timely but I can't help thinking the (non-)exhibition before it would have been more fun.
http://chisenhale.org.uk/exhibitions/current_exhibition.php until August 28th