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London artist Indianna Solnick-Farrell explores the relations between sunlight and architecture

Updated: May 3, 2020

"Strange things happen when we walk round the backs of houses.

Alleyways, the sides of railway lines, provide a singular view through the windows. Everyone knows that you can see in from the street view. Interiors prepare for this. Everything, from this side, is curated to our gaze with precision. Just— quite ordinary really. A houseplant here, a table with a vase of flowers, a T.V. flashing from behind those ugly mesh curtains. We all know the familiar look of an unfamiliar domestic scene.

But round the backs, from the corners where the voyeur is not so expected, the scene is not so perfectly staged for us. They don’t usually have curtains for one, exposed for not expecting the invasion of sight. Or if they do it’s for a different purpose than evasion; maybe it is to filter the sun- light and let it stream in the correct lines for making dust shadows; or perhaps to give the wind something to push at when the window is left open, showing its presence in the forceful billowing that again sends the light in all different sorts of distortions. But not for our eyes, though.

The brick edges protectively encase the space, wrapping it gently, to hide it from prying eyes. One cannot help but wonder then at these carved out holes, these gaps in the armour, that gape like rude yawning mouths. Are they eyes outwards or inwards? Loos would say that windows do not look out but are only to let light in; architecture should only direct the gaze inwards, he would say. Oh, but it would be silly to think that the forms such as those inside, those perfectly static actors, such as kitchen cabinets, shower curtains, door frames, entrances connecting rooms, would have any reason to look outside. What would there be to look at? It must be for the light.

And how unsuspecting, then, of the view this side from the footpath, the eyes drawn in with the light. The window provides such small, hinting square view, but from this we can guess all. That placement of furniture, with that shadow there, suggests a door: there must be the entrance to the next room. So we can suppose the movement of air with the window ajar, moving the curtain just so, as it might cause a draft through to the following room. This breeze may not be enough to make a sound, but the gusting sense of it gives the impression that it does, just as the bright sun- light seems to make a high-pitched note where there is in fact no noise at all. The chair, its curved back against the table top, is bent away from the kitchen counter. What is meant in this interac- tion? The table leans, flirting, into the chairs motion- or perhaps as a support against the more permanent installation of the appliances opposite. And, what is more startling still, I was quite cer- tain that that sardine tin, lying empty and forlorn beside the sink, was staring back at me.

A change is instigated by the arrival of a cloud, disrupting the bright falsetto emanating from the window, and darkening the tempers of the furniture. The light leeches away and vibrancy of the inhabitants at Flat 89a First Floor dulls and mellows".

This is an excerpt from "The Tenants of 89a" written by the London-based artist Indianna Solnick-Farrell. It was an exhibition and text which began Indianna’s interest in ‘resistant objects’. The sculptures of the exhibition go as far as to resist the gaze of the viewer; hidden drawings with tempting marks to unravel, other drawings must be removed and replaced, a printer that stops and starts at seemingly random intervals so that it is rarely caught in action.

The text with its 6 chapters is also being published as a book by Beam Editions.


Indianna Solnick-Farrell is a writer and visual artist whose practice takes place in the ‘squishy’ borderlands of the mundane and the fantastical. Its reticence to reveal more than a blurry outline and the tempestuous manoeuvres to avoid investigation, make it illusive but always heartfelt as it shines a light onto the ecosystem of relations between humanity and the planet. In her world of drawings, sculptures and stories, lampshades become hostile entities, rooms are flirtatious but fickle as the sunlight, and atoms engage in a quest for conversation that involves a time machine and the near total disintegration of the world. Indianna is a graduate of Wimbledon College of Art.

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