Dead Space: 26 Caledonian Rd

How do you curate a small, shabby cold space? Or why? The noise of the derelict is distracting. As the audience tactfully negotiate crunchy, narrow stairs their noses fill with musty smells and the work sinks into the damp walls. Those of us who choose to accept the invites from friends to the ‘five days only'(!) exhibitions of unknowns and their tutors are often subjected to pathetic gestures. There is a sort of planned disappointment that whimpers apologetically in these heroin-chique squats, and when you approach the curator they stand tall and proud in their project, unshaven, trousers held up by string and the liquids of an alleyway soaked into the dinner jacket. To clarify, I want to think a bit about what it takes to exhibit with a lack of funds and in a space on death row. The level of creativity and self-awareness required by these spaces is higher than usual, yet they are the capillaries of a city’s art calendar. Public toilets, alleyways, former residences and old warehouses make up the challenging environs for photographers, painters and performers. But if the white space is the embalmer of once alive art, the derelict is the vomiting vagrant obscuring the delicate wallflower. If you’re going to exhibit in a hobo’s home, you better get your pants down before he does.