„Join us for a screening of Jan Hofers video GROUNDWORK, currently traveling through the UK towards Brussels.
At the beginning of 2018 Jan was awarded a studio residency in East London. There he lived and worked in a former factory area turned into a luxurious gated community with a big fence and a 24/7 concierge service at the entrance. On the inside there was a supermarket, a restaurant, gardens and a leisure centre, everything right on site for the residents. At first glance living there seemed very worthwhile but the longer he thought about it, the more he started to see this exclusive way of living as a metaphor for bigger tendencies currently affecting reality in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
Within this context GROUNDWORK was realized – a video, for all those who want to break in, break out, undermine things or connect people and places.”
GROUNDWORK – U-Bahnstation Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
When Jan Hofer got in touch with me telling me he wanted to have a parallel event to Stuttgart’s Film Winter, I started thinking about institutions where his film GROUNDWORK could be shown. But considering there was little chance to show it in a gallery space, I started searching for alternatives.
Soon it was clear that it could happen in public, potentially in the underground or in an underpass. There was an idea to do it in the big hole of Stuttgart 21 construction close to Eckartshaldenweg, or in the underpass close to Gustav Siegle Haus, which was hosting the programme of Film Winter.
After Jan arrived, we began scouting for locations. Immediately the subway station of the National Gallery seemed to give a similar context to the film, with its dead track and its dead platform offering enough space and silence (besides the passing subways) to host a screening. Following on, I organised speakers, a projector and advertising of the secret event on social media. As we were a bit worried the event could be crashed by the police during or even before it started, we kept the location secret until an hour before we began the screening.
GROUNDWORK – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
After Whales and London, the film toured north to the city of Leeds. Initially, we had planned to have the screening at a student led gallery, Freehold Projects, but unfortunately it was unavailable at the time. Another option would have been to screen GROUNDWORK in a typical student house in Hyde Park. Pre-furnished by stingy landlords, the houses are only equipped for limited stays of students and are covered in fake brick wallpaper, an authentic setting to show the film.
However, the venue most ideally suited to GROUNDWORK was Wharf Chambers. Wharf Chambers is a social project that aims to offer a safe space for minority groups such as the Queer community, a space to defend against racism and to tackle problems, trying to resolve forms of social inequality. As a non-profit organisation that provides an infrastructure for arts and culture, it seemed to be the best place to show the film GROUNDWORK which in part critiques political tendencies of self-isolation and exclusion.
As the gallery space of Wharf Chambers was too expensive to rent and the concert space was already booked that night, I got in touch with the organizers of the concert event. It turned out he was a band member, so I asked him if they´d be willing to host our screening as a pre-event and surprisingly all the bands agreed.
„Wharf Chambers is a bar and multi-use venue in the centre of Leeds run by a workers’ co-op in partnership with a members’ club. We aim to provide an inclusive and affordable space for music, art, film, politics and discussion that brings together people from communities across Leeds.
Worker co-op run bar, cafe, venue and community space. The bar and all licensed events are run as a member’s club. You need to be a member
The bar and all licensed events are run by Wharf Chambers Co-operative Club in conjunction with the workers co-op.”- Wharf Chambers
With special thanks to Isabelle Pead!
GROUNDWORK – WOOOSH GALLERY, Dundee
Jan Hofer had told me about his plan of to show his film GROUNDWORK on a tour across Great Britain and ending in Brussels. I instantly thought of WOOOSH GALLERY as I knew its co-director, Finlay J Hall, and we had always aspired to collaborate.
WOOOSH GALLERY is run by young Dundee based artists. The architecture of the gallery is an old red brick wall which looks like the ruins of an old fortress that frame a public parking lot on two sides. It is in the centre of Dundee next to a Sainsbury’s. WOOOSH GALLERY is divided into two spaces. One is called the portrait gallery and the other the landscape gallery. The main concept for exhibitions is that the artworks are formatted as a single piece of A4 paper which gets pasted on the bare wall.
It was apparent to me that WOOOSH was the perfect place to screen a film primarily focused on DIY tunnel digging, with an underlying message of undermining things, breaking in or out and connecting places with people.
We arrived on the 28th of January 2020, the same night we projected the film out of the trunk of our rental car. The audio of the film was broadcasted by a radio transmitter, so it could be received on every car stereo on the parking lot and even further away. For a better resolution of the projection and to be in keeping with the gallery’s aesthetic, we pasted around 40 A4 sheets onto the bricks of the portrait gallery. This represented two firsts for the gallery, as we were the first non-UK artists to exhibit there, and we screened the first film on the walls of WOOOSH GALLERY.