Architectural Humanities | Falling Away – Catherine Yass at Ambika P3

Davide Deriu

Vertigo in the City:
Falling Away: Catherine Yass at Ambika P3:

The exhibition FALLING AWAY brought together a series of vertiginous lm installations by Catherine Yass in Ambika P3 (22 October – 20 November 2021). The first retrospective of the artist’s extensive body of work, it spanned the past two decades and included a new piece made in response to the impact of COVID-19 and global warming. Ambika P3’s vast subterranean space invited audiences to experience the disorientating effects of Yass’s films, which portray architecture in a state of construction, abandonment or demolition.

By engaging with our perception of verticality, these works address the relationship between material structures and the powers and institutions that embody them. The exhibition drew attention to the vital role of public services, whose fragility has been exposed by the ongoing pandemic. More broadly, it addressed the conditions of social and psychological instability in which we currently live.

Since its inception, Ambika P3 has been developing innovative methods for forming a distinctly experimental art site, rather than a gallery or cinema. This exhibition further questioned the multiple relationships between artist, image, space and viewer, as well as the collaborative role of the curator as designer and co-producer.

Falling Away was co-curated by Davide Deriu, Reader in Architectural History and Theory, together with film-maker and Ambika P3 curator Michael Mazière. This collaborative project was informed by Deriu’s research into Vertigo in the City and by Maziere’s interdisciplinary curatorial practice. A catalogue comprising nine essays by art writers, historians and critics, as well as by the curators themselves, was published in print and digital forms (open access). The public programme centred on the exhibition included a symposium and school workshops.

This exhibition was generously supported by Arts Council England, British Academy, University of the Creative Arts, University of Westminster’s Research Communities and CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media).