We visited “The Dark Side of the City” exhibition, by Unknown Fields, at the Architectural Association in London. It was situated in a poorly signposted building and the exhibition took place in a surprisingly small room, with several exhibits and video displays in a cage of sorts, while further displays were situated around the cage in the rest of the room. As you can see in the images below, The Dark Side of the City takes us on a journey to the unseen, and while they describe it as something slightly mysterious and ethereal, I interpreted the exhibition as examples of things we don’t necessarily think about in society.
One of the exhibits was “All Up in my Grill” which seemed to be about how the gemstone market exploits workers in Madagascar and gives them a daily allowance of rice. Another was called “The Breast Milk of the Volcano” which was about lithium brine from a salt flat in Bolivia being used to (weakly) power a large battery. Another was called “Snowing in the Supercomputer” which seemed to be about simulations, based on climate change scientist’s predictions about how the landscape will change in the future. Another was called “Rare Earthenware” which was about radioactive vases, crafted from toxic mud, accompanied by a video display that, in reverse, showed the journey the mud took to being crafted in a vase and being put on display.
Overall, the exhibition was too vague for my liking. I found the introductory text overly poetic and metaphorical, without giving a clear understanding of what the whole thing was about. I enjoyed some displays, like the Madagascan Gemstone one, but found others like the Lithium Brine battery puzzling, as it didn’t draw attention to a plight or have much to say.