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Suspended from the hall’s 28-metre high hammer-beam roof, the work is a 50-metre long translucent latex cast of the hall’s east wall, containing hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust.
The latex contains innumerable particles of dust, soot and dirt gently lifted from the wall, a special method developed for the cleaning of this UNESCO world heritage site. Otero-Pailos has previously made casts of the walls of other heritage monuments including the 14th century Doge’s Palace in Venice at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.
Westminster Hall and the Doge’s Palace share a history that runs deep in the British and European cultural consciousness: both were seats of governments ruling vast naval empires, threatened with demolition by over-enthusiastic classical architects (Andrea Palladio and Sir John Soane), and ultimately saved by restorations in the original Gothic style.
Jorge Otero-Pailos (b. 1971, Madrid, Spain) works at the intersection of art, architecture and preservation. He is Associate Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia University. His work has been exhibited at major museums, festivals, galleries and foundations, notably, the 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy, the V&A, London and the Louis Vuitton Galerie Museum.