Juneau Projects – ‘Formosa’







SHOW THEN OPEN AT CRATE, 15/11/09 AND 19-22/11/09 12-5PM

Crate have commissioned Juneau Projects to create a new live work for Margate’s famous Shell Grotto. The piece, entitled ‘Formosa’ (the former name for Taiwan – from the Portuguese word for beautiful), builds upon the artists’ ongoing interests in both vernacular architecture and in the potential for crossover between musical performance and artistic production.

It takes as its starting point the enigmatic history of the Grotto and its documented use as a place for séances, also considering the use of electrical technology as a means for recording paranormal activity.

The underground Grotto, in which 4.6 million shells form an uninterrupted 2000sqft mosaic of patterns and symbols, was discovered in 1835 by James Newlove when he lowered his son into a hole that appeared as they were digging a duck pond. Its original purpose is still the subject of much speculation: It has been described variously as a pagan temple, a Georgian folly and the meeting place for a secret cult.

‘Formosa’ does not offer any conclusions about the ‘true purpose’ of the Grotto. Instead, it draws on the idea that the Grotto is a place where ideas and sensibilities intersect, falling somewhere between a gig where the performers aren’t immediately apparent and a post-apocalyptic gallery where troglodyte survivors make sculptures out of audio-visual equipment whose practical purpose has become obscured by the passing of time. The work will use audio playback from obsolete data cassettes to generate sounds which reverberate throughout the Grotto’s labyrinth of underground tunnels. These sounds will be processed digitally to trigger hallucinatory visuals which will animate the shell walls.

This installation is the latest in a line of works by Juneau Projects which explore the relationship between modern technology and folk and pagan traditions, finding untapped ritual or symbolic potential in objects that might normally be regarded as purely functional.

In their earliest work, Juneau Projects ritually destroyed mobile phones, portable CD players and microphones by drill, flame and shredder. The technology they destroyed produced playback as it ‘died’, ‘screaming’ in its final seconds. It was hard to determine whether these acts were exorcisms – aimed at expelling the ‘ghost’ from the machine – or a Luddite torture fantasies, savagely mocking the idea that technology’s usefulness might provide security against nature, ritual or human vengeance.

Later work has suggested a gentler marriage of folk and pagan traditions with modern technologies. ‘Trappencamp’, the monument the pair were commissioned to produce for Tate Britain last year, was a paradoxical ‘ruin’, cut from plywood and emblazoned with heraldry that had clearly been generated using computer software. This new work shares with that piece an interest in obsolescence as a signifier of authenticity – a point which will be emphasised by the installation’s relocation from the Grotto to Crate’s Project Space after the 13th.


The event at the Shell Grotto will take place on November 13 between 6 and 9pm.

The installation will then relocate to Crate’s project space, off Margate High Street, where it can be seen between 12 and 5 pm on November 15 and 19, 20, 21 and 22. It is part of Bad Translation, a contemporary art programme organised for Crate by Matthew de Pulford.


Juneau Projects was formed in 2001 as a collaborative practice by Ben Sadler and Philip Duckworth. Based in Birmingham, they have exhibited nationwide and internationally..

Their first solo exhibition took place at the Showroom, London in 2004, followed by exhibitions at FA Projects, London. A longstanding relationship with Grizedale Arts, Cumbria has led to projects in the UK, USA and Japan. They were also included in the British Art Show 6 organised by the Hayward in 2005. Recent exhibitions include a project for the Art Now Sculpture Court at Tate Britain, and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, which is at Quad, Derby until 15th November 2009.

Duration 13 November 2009 - 22 November 2009
Times Opening: 6-9pm, Shell Grotto.Show then open at Crate, 15/11/09 AND 19-22/11/09 12-5PM
Cost Free
Venue Crate Project Space
Address The Old Printworks Margate CT9 1DX, ,
Contact 07840 157 130 / programme@cratespace.co.uk / cratespace.co.uk

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