Untitled [boundary]     (1991)

  • Adam Chodzko / Untitled [boundary]       (1991)
  • Untitled [boundary]     (1991)

    Box wood (buxus sempervirens) hedge, earth and plywood trough
    Dimensions variable
    (NB: Installation at City Racing, London: Approximately 45cm x 8m x 20cm)

    Untitled [boundary]  (1991) is a garden border in a brightly lit interior space, created by a hedge of the pungent smelling Box tree.  The border blocks the threshold of the space so, in order to enter the gallery where it is exhibited (which means also, ‘entering the artwork’ itself) the audience needs to transgress this boundary.  Chodzko’s interest in public and private space, visibility and concealment, territory and belonging, the urban and rural, identity and landscape, and the surreal are all explored in this early work. The continuation of these themes can be seen in later works such as Settlement (2004), Night Shift (2004), A Hostile Environment (2019), (territory, landscape, identity), Nightvision (1998), and  O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix [live] (2020), (the garden, audience and hallucination), Ghost  (2010), Mask Filter (2013), and Props. For memorising the gravity of mime objects. (Flood)  (2013), (thresholds, perception, containment and vision), Better Scenery (2000 – ) (interior/psychological and exterior space).

    Andrew Wilson, excerpt from The Sacred and the Traversal of Social Space in Adam Chodzko Proxigean Tide, May 2008, Tate Publishing

    “…One way of approaching this might be through those structures that contain or otherwise map a negotiation of territory. The fence or barrier marks out land in terms of property and use, restriction and safety; the countryside is formed by a lattice of such structures. Punctuating these fences, walls and hedgerows are paths that mark rights of way to those in pursuit of a supposedly natural experience; they are an indication of free time – of holidays. These paths are well trodden and their domestic nature can be registered by the thoughtful amenity that greets those whose path meets with a wall or fence: the stile. Chodzko’s Untitled Stile (Teenage Version) (1992) is a sculpture of a stile. Isolated in the gallery it is without fence or wall, it is devoid of function and divorced from its place in the symbolic order as the crossing point of a boundary separating two areas from each other that can be traversed by a pathway. The stile has been carved and then lacquered with turquoise paint. Both carving and lacquer encourage the object to be seen as removed from the realm of the everyday exchange; this is an object we walk around rather than over, its signifying function has shifted. In the countryside a stile is a useful object that provides a structure for acting out the permeability of space. Untitled Stile (Teenage Version) is a hard fetish object; it is also, true to itself, an urban or even properly suburban construct.

    Its counterpart, Untitled (1991), is a knee-high box hedge that runs against the walls of the room in which it is installed and across its doorway to form a barricade against entrance which needs to be negotiated and which, once stepped over, provides a dubious sense of protection. Where the stile denotes a passage through the farmed and domesticated nature that exists as a grid of enclosures, the low box hedge is not so much a barrier or marker of property but the basis of an ornamental garden – a place of leisure, contemplation and secret messages – not so much a sacred grove but still a place bearing arcane symbolisations, an expression of interest in science, mathematics, philosophy and belief.

    By isolating a stile or hedge Chodzko scrutinises them to the extent that they become other than they were. Such a ‘making strange’ might be at the heart of Chodzko’s work, but it is by no means the whole story. These are both objects that can be recognised as signs of interaction and connection but have had their functionality stripped from them, so that their social meanings – their relevance to leisure and holiday – can be apprehended in a much clearer way. The strategies that Chodzko follows in making his work find echoes in the purpose followed by the Collège de Sociologie during its short history between 1937 and 1939. In its meetings, held in the back room of a Paris bookshop, members – among them Georges Bataille, Roger Callois, Pierre Klossowski, Alexandre Kojève, Michel Leiris, Jean Paulhan and Jean Wahl – proposed a notion of sacred sociology as a way of exploring those phenomena that draw people together in voluntary communal activity…”

  • Adam Chodzko / Untitled [boundary]       (1991)