Date: December 2014
International exhibition reveals hope among the ruins
IBID by Alec Shepley at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Art, Taipei
A new art installation created by Alec Shepley which takes inspiration from the UK’s first ever “modernist ruin”, has opened in Taipei.
Shepley’s new video piece, made over the summer of 2014 and inspired by his many visits to the site of St Peter’s Seminary, is central to his thought-provoking exhibition Ibid., which is currently running at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts (KdMoFA ) in Taipei, Taiwan. Built in the 1960s, St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross was awarded the prestigious RIBA gold medal and given Grade A listed status. Now, less than 50 years after it first opened, the abandoned brutalist building in western Scotland is derelict. The seminary will however be preserved as the nation’s first “modernist ruin” after the Catholic Church handed it over for development as a new arts venue.
Ibid. encourages the viewer to consider the negative connotations so often associated with ruin and fragmentation, and showcases the potential and beauty of incomplete or ruined structures.
The video footage, entitled I am from Leonia, was inspired by Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel Invisible Cities depicts a solitary figure steadily sweeping his way around an abandoned and ruined building, with a voice-over recalling street cleaners who are welcomed ‘like angels’ to the city and who undertake the daily ritual of removing the residue of yesterday’s existence.
Shepley said: “The video piece explores the concept that once things have been discarded, nobody really wants to have to think about them anymore. The exhibition therefore invites people to perceive the accumulation of debris as the outcome of daily progress, and question a wider logic around production and modernity.
“The question about what to do with our worldly possessions, once we no longer have a use for them, is as poignant today as it ever was. Ibid. is an attempt to pause, visualise and reflect on the status of the fragment within the modern world, as we look to what has occurred in the past and clear a space to create new and exciting works of art.”
Visitors to KdMoFA can view the video projection through a jagged hole in the gallery wall, which represents just one of a number of installations in the exhibition. Ibid includes many examples of Shepley’s ‘improvised sites’, which are works of art made by grouping together selected materials such as painting, photography, broken objects and models, fabric, video and sound.
Ibid. runs until Sunday 15th February 2015 at KDMOFA, in Taipei
Stills from ‘I am from Leonia’ 2015 (7 x 7′ minute ‘sweep’ films from St Peters Seminary, Cardross)