The Museum, directly beneath Brighton town hall, was the home of the police force from the early 19th century until the 1960s, just past the era of the mods and rocker clashes. One floor down from the street are the old prisoners’ cells and beneath these, the sub-basement. Two floors down and at sea level, the sub-basement has served as the constable’s office, interrogation room, wash room and as storage for police uniforms. The history of the space is indelibly inscribed in every aspect of its appearance and architecture, including the walls, which have been colonised by salt crystals. It exists in a state of mouldering permanence, suspended atmosphere and abandonment. Though the museum still houses the relics of authority and order, as well as traces of protest and disruption, these are from an earlier age…
As the sub-basement itself precariously negotiates the tension created by the lure of the past and the pull of the future, it becomes a relevant point of departure from which to conduct an examination of the slippage between different and occasionally oppositional forces. In a reflection on the particularities of the post-institutional site, each of the pieces selected asks questions about the way that we interpret systems of power and how conflicting forces help us to negotiate the present moment.
Another commonality is the presence of the individual as a conduit for the channelling of abstract forces – making the invisible visible through lived experience. Whether this be through complicit participation, conspicuous absence or through a process of reclamation and taking ownership. Through these different strategies our attention is drawn to the inner workings and the way that power is constructed through system and narrative.