Darlings of the Underground
James Alec-Hardy, Peter Jones, Nayoung Kang, Millie Kelly,
Ines Neto dos Santos, Tuesday Riddell, and Ramona Zoladek
Friday 1 March 2019, 6pm — 9pm
Curated by Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell
in collaboration with Anna Souter
Open from 1 – 8 Mar 2018
By appointment only
12pm — 6pm
28 Bonnington Square
SW8 1TQ, London
A fox leaves its rank scent in an alleyway. A pigeon pecks at rubbish in a busy square. Snails creep in through cracked windows, depositing glistening trails. A rat lies in a bush near a children’s playground. Moths flit from a wardrobe. Squirrels scurry around in parks. Bees drift in through the office window. Tree roots buckle a pavement.
We live in close proximity to other organisms; from caged pets to wild animals, window boxes to weeds. And there are those other living things – yeasts, bacteria, moulds – that float invisible through the air we breathe, or grow on our skin and in our stomachs, parasites that are essential to human lives. City dwellers try block out these living actors that survive, adapt, and thrive throughout the urban environment. Air conditioning, double-glazing, anti-bacterial spray. Conspiracy to control, ignoring the interdependence of human and non-human lives.
‘Darlings of the Underground’, seeks to foreground these overlooked and sidelined relationships, drawing attention to human encounters with organisms designated ‘other’ to ourselves by the categories enforced by science and classical philosophy.
These forces of the ‘underground’ resist dominant models of how we define the human in opposition to everything else, and challenge the concept of the self-contained individual. The domestic setting of Subsidiary Projects is used to highlight the fact that these plants, animals, and bacteria are always present – species are interpenetrated, lives are interwoven – even in contexts where we feel uncomfortable encountering the wild.
Set in a space where large windows offer a view of a street ornamented with tropical plants, the absolute distinction between inside and outside is confronted. Elements that we usually associate with the exterior are interiorised, while domestic elements are recontextualised outdoors. Vegetables are planted indoors; bacteria are permitted to grow en masse; water-sensitive equipment is put to work outside.
Humans are scratching against the limits of domestication, too comfortable to complain, too cramped to stretch out and explore. Can we be like the weeds, and find a way through the cracks?