“56 ARTILLERY LANE”
RAVEN ROW, LONDON, UK
History has a habit of repeating itself— sometimes as a tragic accident, and sometimes with intention. At Raven Row, curators Amy Budd and Naomi Pearce trod the latter path, gathering more than 60 participants in a salutary restaging of “A Woman’s Place,” an obscure feminist exhibition held in 1974 that has all but disappeared from history’s annals.
“56 Artillery Lane” is named for Raven Row’s Spitalfields townhouse address, but it also pays homage to the humble venue of “A Woman’s Place”: 14 Radnor Terrace was a small house in Lambeth converted into a large-scale installation by feminist art group S.L.A.G. (South London Art Group). At the time, 14 Radnor Terrace was the central hub for a group of lesbian feminist squatters—it housed the South London Women’s Centre, whose clients were “a fluctuating and itinerant community of women,” according to an essay in the Raven Row publication compiled by Amy
Tobin. Just as history tends toward repetition, time is bent on bringing about change. New developments drove residents out of 14 Radnor Terrace, and the community that surrounded it was scattered. “56 Artillery Lane” moved into the space that history left vacant, playing on the original show’s theme of the domestic lives of women by organizing gallery levels as rooms in a household. Morag Keil and Georgie Nettell’s Punks Not Dead It’s Different (2015) arranges copper-painted furniture, oxidized with urine, alongside reproductions of Viennese Actionist screenprints, and on the top floor, usually closed to the public, Martine Syms hung custom-made curtains alongside her three-channel video installation An Evening with Queen White (2017).
In The Other Half (1997–99), Fiona Clark chronicles her physical and mental transformation after a car accident: a visual record, in embroidered rags, of time’s ability to heal history’s blows. The artwork served as a sombre reminder when, three days after “56 Artillery Lane” closed, a devastating fire ravaged Grenfell Tower in North Kensington—evidence of London’s ongoing housing crisis, and of history singing out its tragic chorus once again. —ROSIE PRATA
Installation view of Fiona Clark’s The Other Half (1997–99) at Raven Row, London, UK PHOTO MARCUS J. LEITH
Desmond Cole in a still from Charles Officer’s 2017 film The Skin We’re In COURTESY 90TH PARALLEL PRODUCTIONS PHOTO CHRIS ROMEIKE