in Features | 01 OCT 08
Featured in
Issue 118

'Seizure' by Roger Hiorns

A commission that involved the artist filling a condemned building with 90,000 litres of chemical liquid

in Features | 01 OCT 08

How does this project relate to your earlier work?
It’s bringing to a conclusion a type of work that I have previously made, and encouraging me to continue elsewhere. It’s useful. This new work is quite aggressive, and so seems to be an amplification of more modest works from the past that are also a little aggressive.

How long did this work take to complete?
From start to finish, about a year.

How was the work made?
Ninety thousand litres of liquid chemical were introduced into a building in central London.

Did the work change during the making of it?
In manufacture it’s very important that the work doesn’t change. We had to follow a consistent plan, and the art work should never exist in the hundreds of decisions that collude to make it real, so currently the piece remains very simple. The building process is not the most important part to understand, even though to some people, of course, it holds a key to interpretation at a later date. I do anticipate some change in the state of the work following the introduction and the later draining away of the crystallizing chemical, but to what degree is uncertain. It’s a blind method. The final aesthetic remains consistently ambiguous to me in the production of all my works and is not my greatest concern. A constant state of aesthetic deferral has its uses psychologically, and keeps you firmly away from style.

Who was involved with the making of the work?
Rob Bowman, Tom Carter, Barry Goillau, Roger Hiorns, James Lingwood, Broa Sams, James Smith, Anastasia Walsh, Kevin Williams.

At what stage during its manifestation was it given a title?
Seizure is the title, and it came quite late. It could have been called anything, and this is a good thing for any art work. Seizure was most useful – it implies a loss of control, and that’s simply what we’re doing on a greater scale; we have no control over the work, and we planned the removal of our responsibility in its making from the beginning – it was the first thing we did, in fact. We became obsolete very early on.

Is the work what you expected it to be before it was made?
In its present state, yes. At the time of writing it’s currently growing, and the crystallization has not been arrested and the work has not yet been opened up. Next is the corrupting influence of the viewer, the work’s deepest compromise.

Who, if anyone, commissioned the work, and how does the context it will be exhibited in influence its creation?
The answer to the first part of the question is simple: the work was commissioned by Artangel and the Jerwood Charitable Trust. Contemporary art is tampered with consistently from conception. These give-and-take balances are the most interesting consideration it currently has. The work belongs neither to the artist nor the audience – a pure ambiguity can be anticipated, perhaps. (It’s useful to consider that the work is for no one.)

Roger Hiorns spoke to Tom Morton.