Room for Play – Glass reviews Playroom a curatorial project by Olga MacKenzie and Sasha Gallitzine

THE IKEA catalogue has a circulation double of the Bible. Thus it is not so surprising that the a representative from the company said the following at the Guardian Sustainable Business Debate, “If we look on a global basis, in the West we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar … peak home furnishings,” said Steve Howard of IKEA at the Guardian Sustainable Business debate. Howard holds the unlikely title of Chief Sustainability Officer for the brand which is a paradise for those seeking disposable and transient lifestyle accoutrement.

Triangles touching in the gaze of a childTriangles touching in the gaze of a child

Mirroring the interior “installations” constructed by people in their residences by representing certain rituals peculiar to an individual’s home, Playroom is a curatorial project by Olga MacKenzie and Sasha Gallitzine. The exhibition was put together as a response to his statement.


Child with table of assortmentsChild with table of assortments

Featuring work by Alice Anderson, Adam Barker-Mill, Bronwen Buckeridge, Marie Jacotey, Egor Kraft, Silvia Lerin, Imogen Lloyd, Alan Magee, Simon Mathers, Jonathan McCree, Nika Neelova, Paloma Proudfoot & Aniela Piasecka, Hans Rosenström and Freddy Tuppen, the installation was on display last month at Union Club Studios in Soho, London. The collective call themselves IDEA, an obvious riff on the word IKEA.

Olga Mackenzie was generous with information about both the show the history of the venue. It seems that the Georgian townhouse on Greek Street eventually became a brothel and gambling den – testimony to the ephemeral nature of interior spaces. Looking at one of the dilapidated walls, one could see the words “Models Upstairs” still scrawled in marker.

TV in dark roomTV in dark room

There were models upstairs, but of the sculptural and artistic variety, not the scantily clad sort. A television cycling through the light prism (and infinitely more entertaining than much modern programming, some may argue) flashed a rainbow of colours in one corner of the dark space. Because most of the work was of the lighting variety, the upstairs area was not lit, except the glare from various pieces and the flash of Soho’s street lights and neon. If one were to stand by the window, they had to option of listening to Hans Rosenstrom’s audio installation that toyed with the viewer’s sense tangibility and space. With the dulcet tones of a meditation tape, the audio carried one out of the space and into the street below.



The first floor had featured a performance by Paloma Proudfoot and Aniela Piasecka called The Jockey which juxtaposed the banality of cooking with a less familiar liaison that seemed to represent sexual fetishes. One female performer led another through the space using an egg (the sort procured in Ann Summers and not a chicken) as a bit/bridle and reigns indicating perhaps a transition to a different room.


Pillar of lightPillar of light

This room was seemingly the kitchen, as one performer moved to a large table and whipped eggs while the other, dressed in a jockey’s outfit, the bit still in mouth, proceeding simulate cantering on a horse. Or so it seemed. Like most avant-garde art performances, the interpretation seemed lay heavily on the viewer and surely would vary greatly from person to person.

Photos on the drapesPhotos on the drapes

Present at show and taking photographs of it was the artist Alice Andersen, whose work was included in the installation. Like Mackenzie, Andersen also acted as a guide to the work, helping give meaning to the experience. Look out for further curatorial productions by Mackenzie and Gallitzine as this was the first in a series curatorial projects by the pair.

By Yasmin Bilbeisi

Playroom was at the Union Club Studios, 49 Greek Street, Soho, London W1