To mark the end of Lana Locke’s PhD on The feral, the art object and the
social, she will create a sprawling installation of objects, images and videos in
Chelsea College of Arts’ Cookhouse Gallery that make flesh the practice-based
nature of her research.
Here, the practice becomes entangled in an unruly relation with the space:
scratched, seeping forms evoking bodily organs, liquids and waste do not rest
within the contours of a body, but act as infectious elements, moving through the
environment, speaking to a social body uncontained by the gallery. Clay tower
blocks and burnt out metal plants germinate amongst the husks of Locke’s external
and internal installations and protests of the last four years, rejecting
gentrification, as she seeks to reclaim the social within the material.
Locke’s conception of the feral scavenges (physically, socially and
metaphorically) in the gap between defined spaces, and draws out the political
promise of the indeterminate state of being neither wild nor
civilised. Originating as a retaliation against the former British Lord Chancellor
Kenneth Clarke’s labelling of a ‘feral underclass’ in the 2011 London riots, she
seeks to unfix the feral from this uncivilised, abject position. Her practice
resists the ‘civilising’ borders of the spheres of display it interpenetrates.
However, like the feral, it does not attack the boundaries directly: it is
furtive; it must creep over, under and through the boundaries to survive.
The Cookhouse space is treated as a physical manifestation of the academic
framework of an arts PhD, and the institutional rigidity, regulation, and
political and economic pressures the practice has sought to gnaw away at when
confronted by this structure. Yet as Locke equates the temporary installation of
art objects in the space to the status of squatters passing through, the days of
her own squatting period of doctoral study have reached their end, its contingent
permissions and protection withdrawing. As her practice has poked into, picked at,
and soaked through any porosity and permeability of boundaries, inside and outside
of the rules of the University, that might allow her to leach it for a little more
supply (of workshop access, of materials, of knowledge), so must she now move on.