Residency Period: August 2016
Alex Hartley is an artist based in London and Devon. His work explores our understanding of utopian ideologies. Early work focused on the white cube of the gallery space, testing the parameters of art's containers. This has expanded to explore iconic modernist architectural forms, as Hartley considers buildings as social experiments manifested in both the built and natural environments.
Hartley’s practice is wide ranging, comprising wall-based sculptural photographic compositions, film-making, climbing, artist publications, room-sized architectural installations, and it often involves traveling to remote places. Recently, he made a large series of unique photographic works with architectural elements inserted as low-relief sculptural constructions. These imagined bass-relief structures and shelters are physically inserted into large-scale color photographs of wilderness and extreme landscapes.
In a work spanning ten years, he searched for and found an undiscovered island in the high Arctic. He dragged the entire island— Nowhereisland—out into International Waters and declared it a new nation. Over 23,00 people from 135 countries signed up as citizens. In 2014, Hartley lived inside a cliff cabana on the outside of the thirteenth floor of the iconic Grand Burstin Hotel, carrying out a nine week Vigil during the Folkestone Triennial. Hartley destabilizes the conventional ideas that color our understanding of both iconic architecture and nature, as he questions how we occupy the world's wild places.