Move away from the aubergine, Royal Academy, Weston Studio, 5th December 2019 – 5th February 2020.
The exhibition included pet-cam recordings made with pets belonging to people working at the institution. Smeagol the cat recorded the British Academy Room, Ilya the tortoise recorded the Gabriel Jungels-Winkler Galleries and Kara the dog recorded the John Madejskij Fine Rooms.
Metal objects were made to repeat shapes from the artist’s studio and the exhibition space itself, such as a studio wall, a cardboard box, and a window arc. These objects were painted with a range of paints in different shades of white from regular wall emulsion to anti-fungal paint. Imperfections in the walls were also emphasized with anti-fungal paints.
Alluding to the fungus dry rot, a series of brown flags and banners would gradually spread across the galleries and RA premises over the duration of the exhibition. A publication where writer Chris Fite-Wassilak took on the voice of a fungus and where documentation of samples of dry rot found in affluent locations in London accompanied the show.
A fourth element in the show was a petri dish with the live bacteria from artworks either on show at the RA or belonging to the RA collection. The petri dish was swapped every week for a new one and the bacterial growths were recorded to gradually build an archive.
This is an ongoing project where artworks from different institutions are being swabbed and the bacteria documented. A recent article by Chris Fite-Wassilak discussed this work in Art Forum 2023.
Photographs by Andy Keate, 2019.