In 2008 Roger Hiorns was commissioned by Artangel and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation to transform an empty council flat in Southwark, London, into a sparkling blue environment of copper sulphate crystals. Seizure was created using 75,000 litres of liquid copper sulphate, which was pumped into the former council flat to create a strangely beautiful and somewhat menacing crystalline growth on the walls, floor, ceiling and bath of the abandoned dwelling. “Destined to be remembered as one of the truly worthwhile and significant moments of modern British art” (Jonathan Jones,The Guardian), 151-189 Harper Road, near Elephant & Castle became a site of pilgrimage, with thousands of people making their way across the capital to the anonymous council flat. The exhibit closed to the public in January 2010.
Faced with the demolition of the social housing block in early 2011, the piece was acquired by the Arts Council Collection, thanks to a gift by the artist, Artangel and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation through the Art Fund, with the support of The Henry Moore Foundation. The work, weighing over 31 tonnes, was successfully extracted from the property in February 2011, following meticulous planning which saw one wall of the flat removed before the whole structure was pulled out of the building using hydraulic jacks and craned onto the back of a low loader. Seizure was subsequently transported to YSP and is the subject of a 10-year loan agreement between the Arts Council Collection and YSP, where it will be presented within a new concrete structure commissioned from Adam Khan Architects near the YSP Bothy Garden.
Roger Hiorns (b. 1975 in Birmingham) is a London-based artist with an international reputation. Hiorns works with dominant cultural objects and situations. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, and has a number of works in public collections across the country including the Arts Council Collection and Tate. Internationally his work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Hepworth Wakefield will also present an exhibition of Roger Hiorns’ work this summer. The entire body of Hiorns’ Youth series will be the first exhibition in the gallery’s new exhibition space in a former textile mill.
Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “The Arts Council Collection is honoured to have received this extraordinary work of art as a gift. Roger Hiorns’ Seizure, 2008/2013 is a remarkable and important work and one that immediately attracted wide public attention and critical acclaim. It is a mark of the broad acknowledgement of the importance of the work that so many of the leading arts organisations in this country mobilised to save it. As a result of the insight, generosity and quick thinking of The Art Fund, The Henry Moore Foundation and YSP, as well as Artangel and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, we will be able to give the public access to this work for many years to come.
“Since Seizure, 2008/2013 was safely extracted from its original site in 2011 we have been working towards the presentation of the work at YSP. The many issues around the aesthetic and conceptual, as well as the practical concerns of re-locating the work have been explored with the artist and other partners, and I feel certain that once it is open to the public Seizure, 2008/2013 will again prove the powerful object of fascination that is was in its original location.”
Roger Hiorns said: “Given the choice between an imprecise myth of the past and an unknowable future, the latter was always going to be more interesting, more of a problem. As an object removed from its origin it’s forever in limbo – nomadic and unplaceable, and will continue to be.
“It’s important today to make a work that is un-categorisable, I feel. A work made with ambiguity and uncertainty seems fitting for the age. And then to experience this work in its new phase, every decision and action in the work takes it further towards an unknowable end.”
YSP’s Director of Programme Clare Lilley said: “Seizure, 2008/2013 is an important and stunning addition to the Park, joining experiential works by James Turrell and David Nash. It will provide a thought-provoking and magical experience for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will enjoy the work over the coming years. In a significant move away from Seizure, 2008/2013’s original urban context, YSP makes a beautiful and bucolic setting for this powerful, ambitious work which will be housed in a purpose-built structure sensitively sited within the Park’s 18th century designed landscape.”
Seizure, 2008/2013 by Roger Hiorns at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) From 15 June 2013