I-D and ArtsThread Global Graduate Design Show: [online]


'What If', a virtual exhibition proposal, is a series of four rooms in an underground bunker that operates as a corporeal journey into the subconscious shadow of the human psyche. By being hidden beneath the surface, the bunker functions as a physical metaphor for both the uncanny and the shadow self, and re-enacts how the shadow is concealed from the conscious mind.

Drawing on affect theory, the spaces are all intended to elevate, reflect, and enhance the aesthetic of the uncanny and experience of negative emotions embodied in the work, thereby amplifying the affective-emotional intensity of the prints and drawings. The minimalistic design, dim lighting and cold concrete walls all generate a sombre atmosphere that brings about the experience of the uncanny and grotesque.



The circumstances of lockdown and Covid-19 led to the cancellation of our physical final year degree show at Loughborough University. As a replacement, we were required to produce a virutal exhibition proposal for our end of degree assessment. Subsequently, all the spaces created for 'What If' were indivually create in Photoshop, from the layout of the rooms, curation and positioning of work to lighting and texture. My goal was to come as close to the physical experience of the works as possible whilst the creative liberty of using Photoshop allowed me to fabricate an exhibiton that bypasses physical contraints i.e. size of work, budget, space etc.



The final works are selected according to the visual aesthetic and affective criteria of the uncanny and grotesque, namely, how vigorously they convey visceral emotions, and the intensity of ambiguity.

In terms of curation, the series of rooms is sectioned by medium and connected by narrow corridors, embedding the exhibition with an explicit sense of narrative exploration. Each room functions independently and as a congruent whole. The rooms are categorised by medium and are thematically curated: Room 1 (lithography) is the ambiguity of identity, Room 2 (solar prints) is the encounter with the unsettlng intersection of human and monstrous other, Room 3 (drawings) is the shadow’s irrational, emotional nature and the staircase leading to Room 4 is the rupture of the shadow yielding to an integrated sense of self. Consistency is provided by the unchanging conditions of concrete bunker and lighting.

As the curator, I have the responsibility of guiding viewers back into reality and a safe, stable sense of self and body. Hence, the abstract pieces lining the exit stairs and final white room serve to minimise the precense of the shadow that recedes back into the subconscious. The progression from dark concrete to an open, sunlit room is intended to evoke peace, tranquillity, and safety that counteracts the confined, unsettling atmosphere of the bunker.



Due to mental health and safety concerns, the exhibition is accessible to those 18 years and older. Panic buttons are in each room and corridors should viewers require assistance (both physical and psychological). The entrance to the exhibition would have a disclaimer regarding the exhibition’s explicit content and themes (especially in the case of those susceptible to panic attacks, depression, anxiety disorders etc.).

Ideally, this exhibition would have an educational mental health awareness workshop and, in collaboration with a selected charity, would ask people to donate money towards mental health awareness.



18 June 2020



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