Anton Alvarez – The Remnants
Between February 7- 25, in a performance/pop up project in London, Anton Alvarez will experiment with grinding down clay sculptures made in a previous exhibition to make new work with the remaining materials using his Extruder machine.
TLmag: How did this pop-up project with Brookfield Properties come about?
Anton Alvarez: I was contacted by Saff Williams, curator at Brookfield Properties, after she saw my exhibition Tight Squeeze at Huxley Parlor Gallery in London. She was interested in a possible collaboration and invited me to take over the 100 Bishopsgate space, as part of which I proposed a performance where I would create the works on site. The project was also inspired by my upbringing in Chile. It inspired me to think of clay not only as a sculptural material, but also as an architectural application. In England, brick, which is fired clay, is a common construction material. With this project, I’m exploring the architectural aspects of unfired clay – which is used in South America in an architectural technique called adobe.
TLmag: You’ll be working and exhibiting in the space at the same time. Are you looking forward to the more performative aspect to this project, where anyone can come in and chat and see what you are doing?
A.A.: It’s exciting to connect with the audience in this way. Producing the exhibition in the same place it will be shown enables new expressions – even on a practical level. Some works can be difficult to transport, so by creating them on-site, it gives me a new kind of freedom. I also don’t have to think too much about the afterlife of the works. I can focus on the space itself while I’m there, be inspired by it and just push the work to its limits, rather than think about other external factors.
TLmag: Will it be different because the audience will be able to come in? Will that change like the way you approach everything?
A.A.: I don’t think so. I always have people around me when I’m working. It will not be dissimilar to working in a studio with my assistants. I’ll need to be confident and make decisions in the moment.
TLmag: Have you done other performative pieces in the past?
A.A.: Yes, a couple of times. My projects have always been processed-based, centred around particular machines, so it has always been natural to show the process rather than just the outcome. I usually show pictures and sometimes even videos too of how I work with the machines. Having that happen in front of the audience is a natural continuation of that idea, of being even more open and honest about the process.
TLmag: You will be grinding down older ceramic sculptures to reuse in the Extruder. Have you done this process before?
A.A.: This will be the first time. The Remnants will mark the second reincarnation of this particular clay. If everything goes well, I will take this process even further and grind down the pieces I will create at 100 Bishopsgate too. I have a feeling that it will bring more energy to the works somehow, it will instil them with more energy by nature of having had a previous life.
TLmag: What are you most looking forward to with this project?
A.A.: I’m excited and a little bit scared to try the new version of the Extruder. The new parts are huge! It will be exciting to see how the clay acts through the machine and how the pieces come out. Something new happens whenever the scale changes and this time I think I will find a way to another process.
TLmag: Any other upcoming projects?
A.A.: I am working on another show parallel to The Remnants. I am currently working at a bronze factory in Milan, pushing out wax into a cold bath of water with the help of my extruder. The craftspeople will transform these into bronze while I am at 100 Bishopsgate. I will return in a month to work on the patinas together with the patination master. These works will be exhibited at Millesgarden, a sculptural park and museum in Stockholm.