Eight Odes to a Building
What happens when you give eight artists permission to destroy? This fortnight, we look back on the White Noise commissions that sought to celebrate, mourn, or reinterpret the abandoned former BBC East Tower. As the building's demolition begins this month, we explore creative potential of destruction.
“The images I have created appear destructive to some people... I want to make the mystery of explosion more beautiful by helping people understand in what subtle and precise ways it can be used. So, in a way, I propose a new choreography for the violent alteration of buildings as art.”
So reads a 1975 letter from conceptual artist Gordon Matta-Clark to Controlled Demolition Inc, one the US's largest providers of destructive services. Signed “a true admirer of your art,” the correspondence, published in Cabinet magazine, expresses the artist's earnest wish to collaborate and “integrate your efficient techniques into new art projects.”
Now swathed in scaffolding net, the former BBC East Tower begins its own violent alteration this month. As the painstaking process of this demolition begins, it seems a perfect time to channel the spirit of Matta-Clark and celebrate destruction's curious gifts and its strange beauty.
Back in June, we commissioned an eclectic group of eight artists to reflect on the East Tower's creative heritage as the home of CBBC and commemorate its demise. From CGI replicas, to ceramic sculpture, to equipping children with sledgehammers, their responses tackled this drab yet iconic building in a remarkable variety of ways. This fortnight, we'll collate the finished work from each of them and explore the noble tradition of creating out of destruction.
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