»Where there is nothing, everything is possible. Where there is architecture, nothing (else) is possible.«

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Fabulous Fictions 3

Alex Chinneck

  • Alex Chinneck, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes". (All photos courtesy the artist) 1 / 12  Alex Chinneck, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes". (All photos courtesy the artist)
  • Alex Chinneck interweaves reality and fiction, creating a playful illusion with his surreal installations. 2 / 12  Alex Chinneck interweaves reality and fiction, creating a playful illusion with his surreal installations.
  • Blending fact and fiction, Chinneck's dream-like installations resemble photo-montages but actually exist. 3 / 12  Blending fact and fiction, Chinneck's dream-like installations resemble photo-montages but actually exist.
  • In this large-scale installation in Margate, UK, the brick façade droops down to the first story like a limp sheet of fabric. 4 / 12  In this large-scale installation in Margate, UK, the brick façade droops down to the first story like a limp sheet of fabric.
  • Alex Chinneck in front of his UK installation, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes". 5 / 12  Alex Chinneck in front of his UK installation, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes".
  • Alex Chinneck, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes", detail. 6 / 12  Alex Chinneck, "From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes", detail.
  • Alex Chinneck, "Miner on the Moon". 7 / 12  Alex Chinneck, "Miner on the Moon".
  • Like a scene from Harry Potter, this London building seems to have turned on its head. 8 / 12  Like a scene from Harry Potter, this London building seems to have turned on its head.
  • Every last detail, including the "For Sale" sign, has been turned upside down, showing a sense of humour in the work. 9 / 12  Every last detail, including the "For Sale" sign, has been turned upside down, showing a sense of humour in the work.
  • Alex Chinneck, "Telling the Truth through False Teeth". 10 / 12  Alex Chinneck, "Telling the Truth through False Teeth".
  • This London installation is composed of 312 identically smashed windows using 1248 pieces of glass. 11 / 12  This London installation is composed of 312 identically smashed windows using 1248 pieces of glass.
  • Chinneck's work plays with reality and perception by creating seemingly impossible scenarios that exist in concrete reality. 12 / 12  Chinneck's work plays with reality and perception by creating seemingly impossible scenarios that exist in concrete reality.

In part three of uncube′s short series on photographers and artists who like to bend the built truth, Jeanette Kunsmann profiles the work of a British artist and designer who turns derelict buildings into surreal showstoppers.

“A hybrid of fiction and reality, a mixture of illusion and humour” is how Alex Chinneck describes his own works, adding: “fictions do not exist without reality, and my works are also dominated by the familiar and the known.” The 29-year-old artist and designer creates installations that look like photo-montages but, in contrast to the works of other artists featured in this series, they actually exist – at least temporarily. These large-scale, elaborate constructions remain standing until the empty buildings they have been wrought upon on are demolished. Last year, his public art project From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes caused quite a stir in the British seaside resort of Margate. Chinneck appears to have tugged at the bottom of the brick façade of a derelict house like a tablecloth so that the entire outer wall slipped down by one storey and slid into the front yard.

It didn’t take long for the construction industry to become aware of the attention-grabbing effect of Chinneck’s works and a number of companies are now asking for him to make installations bearing their logos. Which is a tempting prospect for the artist since these projects are anything but cheap to produce and require a considerable amount of support and sponsoring. Public art has long been recognised as a marketing tool but “it’s a difficult balancing act,” Chinneck says, “because I rely on the funding, yet I don’t see my work as a service.”

Architecture is a means to an end. With works such as these, it is called into question, by its own means. Alex Chinneck interweaves reality with fictions that cannot exist without that reality. Ultimately, the results can be seen as part of a search for a new reality.

– Jeanette Kunsmann is a freelance journalist and editor at Baunetz

First published in Baunetzwoche #349

www.alexchinneck.com

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