Esther Janssen: Silence

7 Sep 2021 – 4 Oct 2021

Regular hours

10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00

Free admission

Unit London

England, United Kingdom


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The works that comprise Esther Janssen’s first solo exhibition with Unit London, Silence, are never populated by people. Instead, they present quietly familiar suburban neighbourhoods, inhabited by standardised sets of houses, sharply cut conifers and uniform bodies of reflective water.


By emptying these spaces of any human presence and reducing our familiar environments to these common elements, Janssen presents an apparent universal ideal. However, the perfection of these natural environments steadily becomes unsettling. On closer inspection, this unoccupied, yet highly cultivated, world reveals an underlying sense of unease, urging viewers to wonder what is truly taking place or what is about to happen. The intricacies of Janssen’s artistic process have been triggered by key autobiographical moments. The highly personal origin of these artworks is perhaps at odds with the impersonal or universal feel of the environments that Janssen creates. Yet, it is this use of the non-specific that allows viewers to identify with these spaces, possibly recognising elements of their own hometowns. At the same time, however, the non-specific feel of these works gives way to an overriding, almost alienating, sense of ambiguity. The foundation for these eerily silent environments is rooted in Janssen’s experiences when staying with her father in his hometown of Genoelselderen, a tiny residential village in Belgium devoid of any commerce. Janssen would routinely tour the village, studying the serial lots where residents had built their own private paradises, all characterised by tarmac driveways, smooth front lawns and rows of symmetrical hedges. The small varieties within this single theme started to capture her attention. Despite the ostensible mundanity, the artist progressively noticed with a degree of alarm that the hedges and fence lines were made entirely from plastic. Here, it would appear that paradise had become maintenance-free. 

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Exhibiting artists

Esther Janssen


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