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The Object of Risk - A Prelude, 2016

The Object of Risk - A Prelude is a time-based multi-media installation: a demarcated area of pulverised glass, crushed to the point of dust, reasserted spacially by quadrophonic speakers which invite the audience to enter the fragile area as a listening space. A sound piece that runs for the whole duration of the exhibition transforms the demarcated area into a space of perpetual potential catastrophe, with only a few moment of fracture. In standing within the tensioned space, straining to hear the slow rumbling towards catastrophe, the audience is forced to question: if they are about to become the victims of disaster, or whether in fact they are accountable in some way, as a contributing factor, for the soon-to-come catastrophic event? 

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Q:
What is specific about risk in the City, in an urban landscape?

A:
The specific contribution that the effects of risk have on the city, is through the built environment, as in the materiality and demarcation of architectural space. When thinking about the effects of the perception of risk, as in financial, environmental or geopolitical, in and on the city, I tend to think of the built environment as a formative material layer, which expands and contracts in response to the perception of risk in that time and place, according to the imagination of certain projected futures.

Q:
How do you understand the relationship between risk and time? In terms of anxiety, anticipation, the pressure of impending events? What interests you about this relationship?

A:
My focus on the study of risk, is as an active mechanism that keeps producing itself though temporal and spatial terms. The roots of this active mechanism begin through its conception by colonial merchants, as risk and the insurance principle began as a colonial apparatus for managing the precarious nature of trading valuable human and non-human commodities across the sea’s inevitably turbulent waters. The evolution of this apparatus led to a particular mindset in the conquering of other lands, resources, people and minds. It is through this early genealogy of risk that I understand its simultaneous relationship between time and space.

Q:
You're approaching risk from the position of an artist and as a PhD dissertation simultaneously. Can you talk about your material decisions, or what installation and sculpture allow you to articulate in particular?

A:
I began my investigation into risk through an archival practice centered on the image, which continues to operate as a thread throughout the research in the PhD dissertation. The analysis of the image leads to certain experimentation with the material. In carrying out or realizing the experiment, the research process that goes into attempting an almost scientific exactness, makes both the research and practice yield ‘accidental’ discoveries. I want to place an emphasis on these ‘accidental’ discoveries, as they lead to the production of new material, data and information, which is then folded into a productive interaction between the research and practice. And in some instances leads the work across a series of disciplines such as architecture, history, law, visual arts, philosophy, fiction and science. I have borrowed techniques from these multiple disciplines as a way of producing the most coherent image around the theorizing of risk, a conceptualisation that is forever producing itself anew, and is therefore very difficult to concretize.


Across her practice, Helene Kazan uses research and archival material to generate critical writing, multimedia installation, film and performance. Currently Kazan is a AHRC/CHASE funded PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. Recent works include: commissioned online project ‘Engineering Shelter’ for Ibraaz, performative lectures on ‘(De)constructing Risk: A Domestic Image of the Future’ at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, Russia, and at 'Urban Encounters: Movements / Mobilities / Migrations' at the Tate Britain in London. Her project ‘A Cartography of Risk’ was exhibited as part of the Forensic Architecture exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin and contributed to the book FORENSIS (Sternberg, 2014). Further exhibitions include 'Exposure' at the Beirut Art Center, Lebanon and documenta(13), Kassel, Germany.

www.helenekazan.co.uk