Despite its semi-dilapidated state, there is very little to set aside 87 Hackford Road from any of the other Georgian houses to be found in Brixton. The one exception is the blue plaque on the front wall which points out that Vincent Van Gogh once stayed here for a year. Artangel are known for commissioning some adventurous projects such as Daniel Silver’s architectural dig / sculpture exhibition last year, and the latest project by Saskia Olde Wolbers is just as experimental.
Visitors must pre-book and arrive at an allotted time and, on ringing the bell, will be allowed into the house. It’s all remotely managed by cameras and automation and this adds to the atmosphere — everyone present is exploring it together and are all equally intrigued by the state of the place. It feels lived in with a few modern objects lying around but there is a lot of dust and supporting struts are needed to prevent the ceiling from caving in.
The addition of voices and sound effects from some cleverly concealed speakers creates an immersive and sometimes chilling atmosphere. The stories told all relate to the legacy of this house, but in truth we, and those present with us, were too engrossed in exploring that we only picked up snippets of these tales.
There are some interesting finds within the house such as a message on the answering machine and a bird skeleton to be found among all the rubble in the bathroom, whose door we could only squeeze through due to the bags of broken bricks on the other side.
Though this exhibition’s narrative isn’t too cohesive the sheer wonderment in exploring an abandoned house with the addition of atmospheric sound effects makes for an engrossing piece of experiential art.
Saskia Olde Wolbers: Yes, these eyes are the windows is on at 87 Hackford Road, SW9 0RE until 22 June. Pre-booking is essential and tickets are £9 for adults, concessions £7. The experience lasts approximately 30 minutes.
For more art to see in London, check out our May listings.