Ikon Eastside’s latest installation is literally a breakthrough.
It’s a brave institution that invites Mexican art collective Tercerunquinto to make an installation on its premises.
The group of three artists (the name translates as “a third of a fifth”) based in Mexico City likes to spend time researching host organisations thoroughly before planning its “interventions”.
In the case of New Langton Arts in San Francisco last year, it came up with the proposal that the city’s longest-running non-commercial art gallery should auction off its 30-year archive.
However, New Langton Arts’ Archive for Sale: A Sacrificial Act remained a conceptual work when the gallery declined to go with it. But Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery has happily accommodated Tercerunquinto’s latest project at its new outpost in Digbeth.
Called I Am What I Am, the exhibition consists simply of that self-referential phrase cut out of the back wall of the gallery in large letters, like a giant stencil.
As well as revealing the structure of the wall itself with its raggedly-cut layers of breeze-blocks, insulation and plaster board, it opens up a view of what is going on behind, where a small courtyard is currently being created as part of the conversion of former light-industrial buildings to provide relatively luxurious studio spaces for Digbeth’s new creative economy.
It was the change going on in the area, and the way that successive users had left their mark on buildings, which attracted the interest of the Mexican artists when they spent two weeks in residence at Ikon’s former Eastside space, round the corner in Heath Mill Lane, last year.
This is not the first time that Tercerunquinto has dismantled its hosts’ walls. At the Sines Biblioteca Centro de Arts in Portugal it removed material from walls to create a monument in the form of the organisation’s logo.
Visitors to Ikon Eastside will be able to monitor progress on the new courtyard until the end of next month, when the wall will be restored.
* Terecerunquinto – I Am What I Am is at Ikon Eastside, 183 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, until August 24 (Thur-Sun 1-5pm; admission free).