whitechapel london open 2015


The absorbing collages of Mark Harris salvage utopian thought from the forgotten pages of history. The artist uses old library books as his source material: abandoned, discarded and rejected repositories of knowledge and ideologies that have been surpassed by new editions, approaches and interests. From these books, Harris creates glimpses into new worldsand onto new ideas. Repurposing the cast-off materials of the past, he rekindles our interest in alternative ways of looking at the future.

Harris cuts out geometric shapes from the pages and photographs of book illustrations - often simple triangles, squares or rhombuses. Again and again, they depict architectural features sometimes entire buildings, recalling the past promises of planned environments. Harris re-arranges the architectonic forma, excising them from their historic context and re-framing them in midst a landscape of scattered shards and cut-outs. The crystalline structures that surround his concrete buildings nod towards the expressionist architecture of the early 1920's, an alternative modernism sometimes forgotten today.

By converting the images into shapes and patterns, Harris retains the historic atmosphere of his source material but transforms them into different forms and content. His works imagined schemes of social and political structures evoking ideas of possible future proposal.

London Open 2015 catalogue essay by Daniel F. Herrmann Curator