Paul Carter’s practice investigates aspects of the built environment and architectural structure through sculptural assemblage and immersive installation.
He exposes a state of constant contradiction between dereliction and construction, expansion and contraction, a claustrophobic entropy and a functional reordering of the world around us. His processes, of collaging urban detritus and utilitarian construction materials, veer between a carefully concocted artifice and a seemingly accidental coagulation of abject matter.
Paul’s work is conceived under the unifying idea that all buildings function as a kind of hotel of sorts. Whether in luxurious splendour, mundane practicality or low-rent dereliction, they are places of exchange in which we may exist both as the guests and employees, the structure and the furnishing.
Here, he draws out a concept of the workers within this ‘hotel’, revealing traces of their roles, whether refined or dysfunctional, as service providers, invisible presences and inherent constituents of its structure. He disrupts the fabric of the gallery, to take on elements of the subterranean parking lot, service corridor or site of refurbishment that simultaneously consume and repel the objects within them.
Paul’s most recent series of large, glazed panels appear to be suspended within the metal structure of a partially constructed wall. Not so much framed artworks as potential windows revealing a space, now clogged with dense aggregations of construction off-cuts, sweepings and leftovers. Carefully considered, condensed and contained, their contents push up against the glass, threatening perhaps to burst fourth and spill out around our feet.
Reminiscent of an uninviting, spindly designer barstool on thin, rusting steel legs, Architect 1 (2015), nods towards an urbane sophistication, while its pink leatherseat cover rides up, un-hemmed to expose a disturbing pair of dangling balls. Nearby, modular concrete forms are stacked like utilitarian Brancussian columns, simultaneously acting as sculpture, monument and architectural element.
Paul’s video work Edit (concrete) offers a potentially voyeuristic viewpoint bearing witness to an ambiguous scene playing out below. The figures of a mother and child sit and passively watch a topless man nearby as he relentlessly smashes a bicycle frame against a concrete bollard.
This restaged and apparently destructive, dysfunctional action investigates the relationship between performance and the sculptural object; where the object of focus lies in the unfolding relationship between woman, child and man, bollard, bike frame and witness.
Paul Carter: Hotel Workers at the Exeter Phoenix
15 May – 4 July (Preview: Thurs 14 May 2015, 6 – 8pm), FREE
Artist’s talk: Sat 20 June, 2.30pm, FREE
Paul Carter will discuss the themes of the exhibition and his wider practice.
(from a press release)