It’s comfortable to think of buildings made of bricks and concrete, and to assume they have a permanence to them that ensures they will stand unchanged forever. But did the ancient Romans think the same way about the Coliseum, or the Greeks with the Parthenon?
Italian artist Andrea Francolino examines these issues of change over time by creating floor plans on concrete slabs, smashing them into pieces and re-assembling them. His target of choice is shopping malls which he sees as the temples of today, where consumerism is worshipped by thousands of daily ‘pilgrims’.
Rather than being seen as a critique of consumer culture, the artist views this as a recognition that nothing lasts forever and eventually everything turns to rubble. It’s fitting that one of his floor plans is from a mall in Dubai, a city that has shot up in recent decades yet it’s hard to visit and imagine that it was largely desert not so long ago.
Francolino doesn’t view this as a post-apocalyptic vision, but an examination of the continuation of time as it’s sped up — whether it be natural erosion, war or natural disasters that will bring about the ends of these imposing structures.
But among all this destruction there are signs of rebirth as a plant grows from rubble set against a gallery wall and a potted plant balances delicately within an array of steel construction rods.
Despite the use of such strong materials, this is a remarkably subtle exhibition that avoids the easy pot shots at consumer culture and aims for something less tangible yet thoughtful.
Andrea Francolino: A-biotic is on at Kristin Hjellegjerde, 533 Old York Road, SW18 1TG until 7 September. Entrance is free.
For more art to see in London, check out our August listings.