The hard labour is almost done for London based artist Céline Condorelli the day before After Work, her sprawling compendium of installations, interventions and disruptions, opens at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. All that is left for the University of Edinburgh's run institution’s team of technicians and installers to do is to put the finishing touches on Condorelli’s constructed evocations of gardens, adventure playgrounds and sports centres. These are set alongside images drawn from tyre factories and the everyday graft most people undertake before clocking off for weekend outings that might well include gallery excursions and suchlike.
Those bringing Condorelli’s visions to temporary life are the art world’s key workers, who remain largely unseen to the public, but who make things tick. Without them, the exhibitions we take for granted simply would not happen. This is something Condorelli is acutely aware of, both in the social make up of her constructions and in her recognition of those who built them, as well as those who might inhabit them.
“I've been interested in work for a long time,” Condorelli says, sitting in the Talbot Rice’s bright white space, where previously boarded up windows have been opened up or the first time in around a decade.
“One of the very first projects I made was called Support Structures, and focused focused on the work that we think is invisible, but that we entirely rely on, like, for example, framing devices or staging devices, all of these things that we take for granted, especially within an exhibition context. This is the work that allows us to see things, because if things aren't framed, or staged, we don't see them. That's something I've been looking at for a long time, the status, the importance, and the recognition of the labour of art and cultural workers.”
The title of After Work comes from the twelve-minute film made with artist/filmmaker Ben Rivers and poet Jay Bernard, whose work accompanies footage of a playground designed by Condorelli being built on a south London housing estate.
All this chimes with Condorelli’s notion of what she calls ‘altering existing conditions’.
“That’s the methodology,” she says. “I’m entering into a situation and a space in which there is of course an architecture and special setting, but there is also all the people who made work before me. That's also part of the context, the artists who came before, the way the institution is run; even an exhibition within this kind of white cube situation, you're just altering something that is already there, but you don't start from scratch.”
Condorelli’s work dates back over more than twenty years, with an emphasis on architecture and temporary structures. She is also one of the co-founders of Eastside Projects, the collectively run Birmingham-based artspace and studio set up in 2008. Condorelli has carried this sense of collective democracy into After Work, with those involved in setting up the exhibition being credited, while a series of works by peers, friends and key influences also feature. Then there are those who use their leisure time to visit the show during their down time, often without any prior knowledge of what they are about to see. How might Condorelli explain After Work for them?
“I would sum it up around this idea of display,” she says. “That it's a show that very much tries to talk to how we see rather than what we see. So how the exhibition context is constructed itself, and how we actually see things; how we see landscape, how we see objects, how we see artworks.”
Celine Condorelli: After Work, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh until October 1.