In 1997 the Manchester based
curatorial organisation ‘The Annual Programme’
invite KIT to produce a one-off work as a site-specific project
for the roof of the Turnpike Gallery. The space is in Leigh,
England and is a public gallery which inhabits the same building
as the Leigh public library. This is another early pivotal
project for KIT as it is the first time that a project is
undertaken on a rooftop, a site which launches later projects
such as A.D.I.E.U. (Architectural Developments
In Escape Units).
prompts a 2-month research project into the writing and activities
undertaken on rooftops. After months of planning and a number
of site visits, it is decided to work directly with the objects
on the rooftop as well as introducing other materials to the
piece. Looking like 1960’s era photographs of UFO’s,
the 4 large ventilators on the rooftop have a space between
them where it appears as though one of them has taken off
or not come down to land. In a humorous way, the space looks
like a UFO landing site. The 4 working ventilators are sprayed
a bright silver to further suggest this relationship.
UFO spotting and in more extreme
cases, the sites where people build landing strips are a phenomena
which occur all over the world in many different cultures.
It is a modern day fascination which dates back to the Egyptians
and beyond, in more abstract ways. What is interesting, is
that Western culture would presume itself to be more advanced
than, say, the 1930’s ‘Cargo Cults’ of islands
such as Vanuatu, New Guinea and the Solomons. Yet, in many
ways, direct analogies and metaphors can be made.
Different types of ‘Cargo
Cults’ existed on small islands in the South Pacific
Ocean where, for example, the U.S. military dropped supplies
and missed their intended target. The resulting walkie-talkies
and uniforms subsequently washed up on the shores of the islands,
led the indigenous people to think that they were gifts from
the Gods, for who else could produce such advanced and futuristic
technologies and garments. To thank the Gods, the islanders
built enlarged effigies of technologies such as the walkie-talkie
in flowers, hoping that this would bring them further gifts.
UFO landing strips exist all
over the world and invite UFO’s to descend upon them.
The similarities to the desires expressed by the ‘Cargo
Cult’ islanders are pervasive, in that both cultures
wish for ‘higher beings’ to make contact with
them through objects or through direct presence. Some of the
first UFO photographs to be taken seriously were shot in the
1960s by George Adamski. The classic 1960s saucer shaped craft
was shown very clearly in Adamski’s photographs. Similar
is proportions, the ventilators on the rooftop could be straight
out of one of Adamski’s images.
In the past it was decided that
the Turnpike gallery would have a cinema built on the rooftop,
but plans were aborted through lack of financial backing.
Attached to the back wall of the rooftop is a 16x9ft image
(the ratio and size of a small cinema screen) printed onto
canvas. The scene is a photograph taken by KIT of plastic
deer in an industrial sized garden centre in the U.S.A. In
the background a UFO can be spotted as if its coming into
land, or as if its taken off. The UFO image is lifted from
the most famous of Adamski’s photographs and has been
manipulated in ‘Photoshop’ to make it look as
if it’s a single image with the fake deer. Underneath
the ventilating units / UFOs, strips of turf have been laid
to make the site more seductive to those closer to the heavens,
a roof garden for the gods.
exhibits at the following site -
1997 Roof of the Turnpike
Gallery / Annual Programme (Leigh, Englalnd)