Permanent installation, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, installed 2013
Photos: Ashley Carr
‘Black Pleasure’ is the new public space within Eastside Projects, by artists Heather & Ivan Morison, formed from the meeting and merging of two of the artists’ long term, large scale artworks – ‘Pleasure Island’ and ‘Black Cloud’.
‘Black Pleasure’ provides new opportunities for the life of the gallery at Eastside Projects as it opens up a new communal space for performing, sharing, talking, eating and drinking. The artwork is a useful space as much as it in turn reflects upon the prophetic visions of twentieth century science fiction writers, the urgent contemporary concerns of the Arts & Ecology movement, and the real world application of collectivist ideals within controlled environments.
‘Pleasure Island’ was the first artwork constructed as part of Eastside Projects in 2008, functioning as both central office and kitchen for the gallery. Over the last five years ‘Pleasure Island’ has acted as a beacon of the myth of a gallery that is an artwork.
The Morison’s much loved structure was built from harvested red wood trees from the artists’ own wood in Wales and its form was based on a Peruvian fools-gold crystal gifted to them. Originally commissioned for the Wales Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007 ‘Pleasure Island’ was adapted for Eastside Projects as a long term commitment to exploring the nature of artworks within the space. ‘Pleasure Island’ was also the name of the artists’ first puppet play within the ‘office’ on the launch of the gallery in 2008 and this has been followed by four further puppet performances,culminating in ‘Puppet Show’ earlier this year.
‘The Black Cloud’ was proposed by Heather & Ivan Morison as a shelter for a future apocalyptic world scorched black by the unrelenting sun. A remarkable pavilion-like structure commissioned by Situations and first erected in Victoria Park, Bristol in 2009, ‘The Black Cloud’ acts as a public artwork, shelter and meeting place, and was mostrecently found ‘floating’ in the grounds of Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire.
The dark structure was first erected through community 'barn raising' and was informed by a number of architectures from across the world responding to climatic scenarios or emergencies,such as the Hallig houses of Northern Germany built to withstand regular flooding, which echoes Eastside Projects’ own position between Heath Mill Lane and Floodgate Street named for their proximity to Birmingham’s main river, the Rea. ‘The Black Cloud’s starting point though was the ‘shabono’, a circular structure built by the Yanomamo South American Indians from the Amazon, made up of successive rings of timber triangular frames, bolted together to create a strong curving roof with an open centre, reflecting the communal space of the shabono. Constructed from trees from the same wood as ‘Pleasure Island’, the timber has been scorched using a Japanese technique, called Yakisugi treatment, to create a dark, protective shield.
Between the current moment and a potential future catastrophe ‘The Black Cloud’ has moved on, and ‘Pleasure Island’ has not outstayed its welcome, nor has either structure lingered long enough to become commonplace. As we at Eastside Projects grow and change, and our needs and desires are honed, ‘Black Pleasure’ emerges out of the ashes of two artworks to satisfy our demands.
A new myth emerges.
Gavin Wade, Director, Eastside Projects, Birmingham