WATOU GROW ROOM (2022)
Alex Hartley is interested in facets of counterculture. His large-scale installations are sometimes presented as ruins where place, purpose and context intermingle. As an example of the covert, illegal and alternative use of buildings, there is his abandoned ‘grow house’ in this former café in Watou. The installation shows the waste and technical paraphernalia of an abandoned cannabis plantation. Although the exact crop is not specified, ‘someone’ here has gone to great lengths to increase production and hide what is going on.
These “parasitic” spaces can occur in urban tower blocks and department stores, in farm barns and rural business parks. They are sometimes simply abandoned after the plants are harvested. These grow houses can be located anywhere, in any neighborhood, hidden from view. Hartley creates a theatrical installation in a building where locals pass by regularly, without considering what lies behind the walls.
b. 1963, West Byfleet, UK
lives and works in Devon
Hartley’s work addresses complicated and sometimes contradictory attitudes toward the built and natural environments. His wide-ranging practice includes wall-based sculptural photographic compositions, room-sized architectural installations and film-making. His site-specific installations, sometimes in remote natural surroundings, test our notions of utopia, the individual, and the critical relationship we have with the environment.