Scott Mitchell

I remember many stairs between Bianca’s post-grad studio in the Gossard building and West Space two blocks away on Anthony Street. Many stairs with many sheets of MDF, chipboard, carpet, vinyl, and melamine. I remember Bianca’s hatchback loaded with 3 meter lengths of pine; sticking out the back. Saskia and Tim and I, walking behind holding the ends like a wheelbarrow as Bianca drove slowly west along Franklin street. Middle of the night. Tim went for food, coming back with piles of curry and naan from that place on Elisabeth, north of Victoria. It was 2002, pre the influx of shuffling apartment dwellers and late night eating, the city was dead, quiet. We were trying to be too, but occasionally large slabs of MDF would crash to the floor.

Inside West Space, Bianca was constructing another inside, an intestinal fold within the tiny third gallery. West Space had somehow swallowed itself; its materials and movements repeated in a Mandelbrot turn. Here is the green handrail wrought from flexible polyurethane, here the terrazzo steps, the non-slip edging, the notice board, the corflute office walls, and the reception desk. The building was staging its own performance, a reenactment of sorts. A particular type of site-responsive installation was being explored.

West Space’s Anthony Street location was an awkward space that seemed to get more awkward with successive renovations. The building imposed itself on the viewing (and the making) of work. All spaces do this; however, some manage to stage their own disappearance, a trick of normative strategies. This trick was not West Space’s concern; it did not seek to produce a ‘neutral’ space but rather to understand how space becomes place. The ‘space’ of West Space is not the building but the institutional structure, repeatedly brought into being—often at great individual cost—by the people of West Space.