Jorge Otero-Pailos. The Ethics of Dust

29 Jun 2016 – 1 Sep 2016

Event times

29 June-8 July
Mon-Fri 9am-8pm
Sat 9am-5:30pm

9 July-1 Sept
Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm

Cost of entry

Free tickets must be booked in advance at artangel.org.uk/ethics-of-dust

Westminster Hall

London, United Kingdom


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The Ethics of Dust is a temporary site-specific artwork made for Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the Parliamentary Estate and home to the UK’s House of Commons and House of Lords.


Created by artist, architect and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos, 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.

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Suspended from the hall’s 28 metre high hammer beam roof, 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.

The Ethics of Dust takes its name from Victorian writer and social thinker John Ruskin’s 1908 publication The Ethics of The Dust. Ruskin’s great admiration for these two Gothic structures led him to lay the intellectual foundations of modern conservation. Anticipating concerns over pollution, he recognised its damaging effects on buildings, but argued against surface cleaning, fearing 19th century architects would do more damage than good with the blunt instruments available to them at the time. Conservation technology has now advanced to the point where cleaning can be safely and sensitively carried out without damaging the stone.


Exhibiting artists

Jorge Otero-Pailos

Commissioned by

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