Plymouth Arts Centre presents the first UK solo exhibition of the Vienna based artist, architect and urban designer Barbara Holub. Her work addresses anthropological issues that decisively shape society, examining social and personal identities through the modes of visual art and architecture. As part of the Artist and Curators Residency Programme, Holub has been spending time in the city researching the current fluxes and state of the regeneration process in Plymouth.
‘More Opportunities’ relates to a city in search of a new identity and the concerns that ensue through regeneration. Barbara Holub through her processes as an artist and architect has spent time talking to local people, planning departments, examining areas of significant identity transformation such as Devonport, relating to people in and outside of the borders and boundaries that occupy this area. Barbara Holub transforms this research into narrative and poetic elements in the show, which oscillate between reality and fiction laying open today’s pragmatism and stages a demonstration.
‘More Opportunities’ revolves around the limits of occupying space. The artist uses the format of a demonstration as an outdated, almost “retro-utopian” model, relating to a 16mm film documentary from the dockyard strikes that took place in Plymouth in the mid 1960’s, and more recent strikes of the current privatisation of the Naval yard and reclamation of land to Devonport area being transformed into privatised social housing. The feeling and sense of lost opportunity in this area coming along this development of regeneration is symptomatic to many current examples of public-private-partnerships all over. This melancholy due to an unclear new identity resulting from the ongoing processes of transformation in the city and in ones own individual life is accompanied by the big hope and generalised desire for “more opportunities”. In her show Barbara Holub addresses the collective understanding and personal wishes in terms of “more opportunities” beyond the concrete cause of Plymouth.
Alongside her work as an artist Barbara Holubs’ prolific career includes current president of the Secession in Vienna since 2006 and she created the architecture and urbanism company transparadiso with her partner Paul Rajakovics in 1999. transparadiso always start out from the subject, the small situation, developing into the larger context, reflecting global issues alongside with developing new tools for “direct urbanism”. Currently transparadiso is realizing a new city quarter in Salzburg.
Barbara Holub staged a demonstration as part of the focus of the exhibition on the regeneration of the city and the search for a new identity that comes along with this. the location is on looe street in front of the plymouth arts centre which is also looking for a new location. the demonstration refers to the first demonstration of the dockyard workers in 1969 - the first one after 300 years since the coexistence between the dockyard/ naval base as major employee of the city and the city was always considered beneficial to both sides; during the last years the dockyard has been privatized by HML as a result of economical decline after the end of the cold war and the company starts to give back part of their property to the city.
The changes due to the privatization culminate in the development of tours through the dockyard where the navy officers function as tour guides. after a sample tour the participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire in order to optimize the quality of the tour according to the expectations of the visitors.
The demonstration was filmed and included in the exhibition. The pickets and banners for the demonstration were painted in reflective white - devoid of a message but with a visionary aspect between innocence and the glooming of science fiction appearances. They were visible in the show even before the demonstration.
“More opportunities” oscillates between the general promise any politician would make and the hopes of the individual being projected into it. Staging a demonstration to this topic lays open the meaningless format of demonstrations in the globalised economy today, and transgresses it by placing it explicitly as fiction.
video of the staged demonstration, Dec.8, 2007
Installation view: with plackards of the demonstration
Welcome to the navy base visitor’s centre
Inkjet print on fabric
310 x 235 cm
Taking the matter into your hands”
double-sided silkscreen print on glass
52 x 100 cm
Videostills of the Dockyard Strike, 1969
Digitalprint on Kodak Endura Metallic, mounted on aluminium
à 30 x 45 cm
Plymouth Arts Centre, 2006-2007
curator: Paula Orrell
London Architecture Festival, 2007
Austrian Culture Forum, London
Rencontres Internationales (Film Festival), Ca2m/ Reina Sofia, Madrid, Centre Georges Pompidou/ La Vilette, Paris, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2009
The Dignity of Men
MUSA, Vienna, 2014
House of Arts, Brno, 2014
Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegowina, Sarajewo, 2014
curated by: Maja Abdomerović, Berthold Ecker, Roland Fink, Terezie Petišková, Jana Vránová