A City, inside and out

City Inside Out, LEA 20
City Inside Out, LEA 20

Officially opening at 13:00 SLT  on Thursday, March 26th at the LEA, is Haveit Neox’s newest full region installation, City Inside Out.  It’s a breath-taking and, at first look, bewildering build, huge in size, confusing in complexity and powerful in narrative.

The simplest way to describe the theme of the installation is to take the description from About Land:

Walking into any interior reveals only exteriors. The sense of personal space is absent. How is a city experienced when there are no comforts for the soul, no home?

City Inside Out, LEA 20
City Inside Out, LEA 20

The description of the build, found close to the landing point adds a little more detail:

To someone without a home living on the streets, the bustling city becomes one united exterior. “City Inside Out”, explores a world that lacks interiors. Some pedestrians throw coins into the beggars’ hats, others bark insults to their faces. Joggers, dog walkers, groups of boisterous friends, clean people in new clothes, romantic couples, cell phone conversations, shiny traffic, wash their daily tides of health and prosperity past the homeless.

And thus the world around us starts to take shape: this is a city we’re asked to see through the eyes of the homeless, the dispossessed; those who have nowhere to be, nowhere to go. For these people, the city is a very different place to the one we know. It’s a place where everything is strange, alien, and threatening. A place bad enough in daylight, but as Haveit further explains, becomes much, much worse at night…

City Inside Out, LEA 20
City Inside Out, LEA 20

Late each night, the people living on the streets are confronted by another kind of crowd, dangerous as the sharp knife and gun. They are defenceless, even within their own bodies. Sensations abound, prickly as lice and poisonous insect infested clothing, blurry as sight without glasses, with ringing ears of imaginary voices, and resignation to untreated illness. The survival test is administered without consideration for those who will see the next day.

Armed with this narrative, it is possible to make your way down and through the installation, crossing bridges, descending ladders and – in places – flying – and see various elements and aspects as they are meant to be seen: as a frightened, forgotten nameless … lurker … in a city were “ordinary” life passes one either side of you and renders you invisible. A place where, when you are noticed, it can feel terrifying or threatening.

City Inside Out, LEA 20
City Inside Out, LEA 20

Witness, for example,  the portrayal of the man taking his dog(s) for a walk; is it really a pack of hounds he’s struggling to control, is is that home the mind of the lost, homeless individual conceives it, when in fact to the rest of us, it is simply one man and his dog? And, nearby, look how the figure dropping small change down towards you literally towers over you, massive hand outstretched, face a mask…

Then there are the horrors of the night and of living and sleeping rough, portrayed in nightmare images of bottles and guns and more with insectoid legs climbing towards you, or seemingly skittering around or even looming over you; parasitical, ready to suck the life from you.

City Inside Out, LEA 20
City Inside Out, LEA 20

If all this sounds dark, it’s not; there is a magnificence about this build that is enthralling – and such is its size, I doubt a single visit will suffice to appreciate it all. Time is needed to explore the various levels, the heights and depths and to appreciate all the imagery and metaphor that is layered throughout this amazing city. And do be prepared to play with your camera position and rotation; this is a city where gravity knows no constant in places.

From high in the air to below the water, City Inside Out is an incredible build from an incredible architect of cities of the mind. Not to be missed.

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