OUTFITS by IRIS TOULIATOU at PEER [from 20231007 to 20231216]

[Photos: Andy Keate]

Outfits is a new commission and the first solo exhibition in a UK institution by Athens-based artist Iris Touliatou. Using framing as a practical and conceptual device, Touliatou’s exhibition at Peer comprises sculpture and a series of architectural and behavioural adjustments that explore the access to, and the safeguarding of, public and private space.

Building on her previous work, with its interest in cyclical economies and the infrastructural qualities of objects, this exhibition draws attention to the interdependent behaviours of people and institutions. Hundreds of ornaments of guard dogs sit waiting in a museum display unit, an exhibition wall is undressed, a replica door installed, and an address manipulated. Each acts as an ‘outfit’, or facade for redressing a set of organisational and personal requirements.

Touliatou’s exhibition at Peer takes as a starting point the history, location and function of Peer’s back door, which leads onto a large residential carpark, as well as her research into the building’s archive where she found descriptions of Peer’s location as a poorly lit site that attracts “antisocial behaviour”. Motivated by questions of what constitutes good and bad behaviour, security and perceived threats, Touliatou’s exhibition produces new sightlines and access routes from the front of the gallery to Peer’s back door.

In the exhibition space, KNOCK-OFF SAFETY RETROFIT (2023) comprises a doorframe and fire door newly installed by Hackney Council’s maintenance team, mirroring Peer’s existing backdoor and providing a permeable access to the adjacent office space and a clear view through to the rear of the building. In PARTYWALL COMMON FIT (2023) sections of the gallery wall have been removed. In doing so, Touliatou draws attention to the architectural structures shared between Peer and the three residential flats above the gallery space.

Central to the exhibition is NATIONAL STYLE (JENNINGSERSATZ) (2023). Four replicas of the famous ‘Jennings Dog’ also known as ‘The Dog of Alcibiades’, sit among hundreds of statues and household ornaments of seated guard dogs of various breeds, all bought from UK-based eBay sellers. Mapping the mutation of objects and their value, the work takes the origins of the Jennings Dog – a Roman marble copy of a 2nd Century Hellenistic bronze statue of a seated Molossian dog – as a protocol for the research and purchase of all the seated dogs included in the installation.

A museum standard Proform archive shelving unit mounted on a Monotrak mobile system provides a framing device for the objects and considers the legacy of ownership and care of the Roman marble sculpture, which is thought to be one of only a few animal sculptures surviving from antiquity. Named after the object’s first British owner, Henry Constantine Jennings (1731 – 1819), a colonist, antiquarian, collector and gambler, the sculpture became a signal of social status within the British upper classes of the 17th Century. Sold by Jennings to pay his gambling debts, it was eventually bought by the British Museum, partly through Heritage National Lottery Fund, where it resides today.

Combining her emotionally informed and architecturally bold interventions, Touliatou’s commission at Peer extends her ongoing interest in the conditions and relations that create behaviours that constitute social status – be it security, access, taste, proximity, wealth or lack thereof, as well as how we navigate relationships to one another.

As part of the commissioning process, a series of talks, events and workshops has been programmed in collaboration with Touliatou and run throughout her exhibition. Touliatou’s exhibition is part of Peer’s programme for 2023, which includes new commissions and exhibitions with artists Tanoa Sasraku, Jacob V Joyce and Rudy Lowe, as well as a survey exhibition that explores cultural, artistic, and experimental cooperative initiatives that took place in Hackney between 1971 and 1986.

Iris Touliatou has recently held solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel (2023); Rodeo London/ Piraeus (2022); Grazer Kunstverein (2022); EXILE Vienna (2020); Radio Athènes (2019). Her work has been included in the group exhibitions Siren (some poetics), Amant, NYC (2022); Driven by Desire, Rongwrong, NL (2022); the New Museum Triennial, Soft Water Hard Stone, NYC (2021); the 7th Athens Biennial, Eclipse (2021); Work and Leisure, Milan (2022); When I state I am an anarchist, PLATO, Ostrava (2022); Anabasis, Rodeo London/Piraeus (2022); Lives of an object ARCH / Melas Martinos (2021); The Way In, Haus N Athen (2021); Anti Structure, DESTE Foundation (2021); The Same River Twice, Benaki Museum, Athens (2019); Manifesta 12, 5x5x5 : Selected Projects, Palermo (2018) among others. She was an artist in residence at ISCP, NYC (2021) and at NTU CCA, Singapore (2019), an ARTWORKS SNF Fellow (2021) and the recipient of Europas Zukunft /Τhe Future of Europe Prize from GFZK Leipzig in 2012.

Iris Touliatou’s commission at Peer is generously supported by The Ampersand Foundation, and Foundation Foundation.

With special thanks Sophie Crichton-Stuart and RODEO London/ Piraeus.

Peer is an Arts Council England, National Portfolio Organisation and is supported by Hackney Council through a Voluntary Sector lease.

[Text: Peer]

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