The Silver Building is pleased to present CITYISLAND by Anka Dabrowska, Jeni Snell and Stav Bee. This exhibition, curated by Anka Dabrowska, includes new drawings, collage, sculpture, painting, installation, video, photographs and a live performance, which activate a fresh narrative on the urban and rural (city/ island) landscape, with issues surrounding identity, place and culture.
"Cities are never just what they seem; they are like dreams, made of desires and fears."
Calvino, Italo. (1972) Invisible Cities
Anka Dabrowska's drawings explore the territories both real and imagined. Using a complex interplay of aesthetic and thematic contradictions, she creates drawings and sculptures, that are at once delicate and personal yet detached, fragmented and uncanny. She collects the hidden traces of public and private histories through which we make the city our own; her own map. The drawings playfully reinterpret bleak urban and rural landscapes in an intricate style. The sculptures mutate and transform in a colourful display of architectural alchemy. Built from the disregarded wreckage of everyday life (cardboard, wood, plastics and concrete) alongside documentary snap- shots and bright sprayed graffiti. The work is intensely private and semi-autobio- graphical, yet it moves beyond personal circumstances to address the common drift through our shared environment.
For CITYISLAND, Dabrowska will create a site - specific installation focusing on the concept of shelter as a fortress of our bodies; an extension of ourselves. This tempo- rary, fragile structure, will be made out of old sculptures and objects, that Dabrowska will smash up and rebuild is based on recycling and regeneration. While the drawings sit in contrast and in dialogue with the installation, questions about vulnerability and protection, the housing crisis, personal stories and the current physical sensations of anxiety, emerge.
Anka Dabrowska (b. 1979 Warsaw, Poland) graduated in 2003 from University of Northumbria in Newcastle where she attained her Masters in Fine Art with distinction. She lives and works in London and has exhibited widely nationally and internationally.
"Island spaces are used to explore and create bridges between the real and the imaginary as a response to cultural and social realities, frequently taking the form of utopias/dystopias, Edens, Arcadias, nations, meta text, cultural cross- roads."
Bassnet, Susan and Stephanides, Stephanos. (2008) Islands, Literature, and Cultural Translatability
Jeni Snell's practice is based on the ongoing relationship she has with the place where she grew up. Exploring her experience of living in a previously occupied (Channel) island territory, she is interested in the influence that our early environment has upon the formation of identity, especially in the LGBTIQA context, which she oc- cupies. Attending a school built on top of a WW11 German gun battery brought the opposing dynamics of 'childhood innocence' and 'the architecture of war' together within the playground and this conflicting and troubling relationship has been a con- sistently developed theme throughout her work.
Snell views the redundant fortifications as anthropomorphic symbols of the melan- cholic self as a queer teenager during Thatcher's homophobic 80's, as the bunkers represent loss of freedom, fear, isolation and uncertain future. Snell is also interested in the concept of camouflage in physical and metaphysical considerations, in particu- lar its limitations and failure, especially in relation to what she calls 'societal camou- flage' when an individual responds to peer pressure to conform to heterosexual stereotypes of self-presentation and dress.
Paying homage to Guernsey's significant WW11 legacy of heritage, she often works with cast - concrete methodology to make playful phallic projectile sculptures, per- haps referencing gender issues. Using found objects (such as discarded plastic bot- tles), she attempts to contextualise the Islanders make – do – and - mend creative resourcefulness whilst under Occupation, in reaction to our current throw – away and materialistic global society malaise.
For CITYISLAND, Snell is exhibiting works from her latest solo show Achtung Baby! Each work, bears titles from songs performed by homosexual activist musicians.
Jeni Snell (b.1972 Guernsey, Channel Islands) graduated in 2007 from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with an MA (Fine Art) and in 1999, with a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Art from the University of Sunderland. She lives and works in London.
"Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces." Cahun, Claude (1930) Aveus non Avenus.
Stav B's work deals with the on going themes of identity and love, the politics of the female gaze, the aesthetics of beauty, sexual identity, repetition, reflection, obses- sion, transformation, alchemy and magic.
There is a linear progression in her body of work, evolved through time, environment, age and circumstance: sketches, diaries, paintings, collages, installations, sculpture, photographs, texts, performances, video, construct a multi media manifestation, which has shaped her direction and focus.
Stav B's work is a continuous game of assumption, theory, practice, belief and inno- cent perversity! A self-peep – show, obsessively producing, expressing, expanding, materialising. A personal testimony of experiences, dreams, desires, nightmares and fantasies.
For CITYISLAND, Stav B will continue her cerebral investigations, regarding the city, as a landscape of aloneness and anonymity, darkness and light, hardship and oppor- tunity and the ultimate creative personae; reflective, intense and very alive, with a multi disciplinary exhibition of senses, in footsteps, marks and testimonies.
Stav B is a London-based multi-disciplinary visual artist, focusing on still and moving image and performance. She holds a BA (Hons) Fine Art/ Ceramics form Camberwell College of Art and an MA Photography from London College of Communication. She has been working and exhibiting here and abroad, since 1997.