A disused bedsit amongst the housing estates of South East London would not normally figure in the plans of your average art-tripper, but inside one particular dwelling lies a spectacular installation by British artist Roger Hiorns. For this ambitious piece, organised by Artangel, the artist first sealed the flat then poured in thousands of gallons of boiling hot copper sulphate solution, which slowly crystallised over every surface.
My name is Roger Hiorns and this is Harper road between the New Kent road and Borough High street, just off Elephant and Castle... and we are pretty much at the back of all of that, In a post war council flat consisting completely of beds-sits. The building has come to the end of its useful life and so this insertion, this sort of final procedure, is the last thing that will happen to it so in a way the procedure is an unusual ending to a building perhaps. We have crystallised the interior of a bed-sit. The entirety of the room has been coated in copper sulphate. So we flooded, in its entirety, I think it was like something like 90,000 litres of copper sulphate liquid. We basically reinforced the flat, we reinforced the area and then we poured in boiling hot liquid, a super saturated copper sulphate into it...and basically we just sat around and waited and see what happened, see what aesthetic it is that we would gain. We were aware of the possibility of corruption perhaps, the material itself could have been completely corrupted by the material already in the flat. We could have ended up with something which was like a grey or a brown mass. And the crystallisation we got was more than we probably assumed we would get. You walk in, it’s the purest thing, it’s un-trodden, its rather like the Moon perhaps and now its impure because the participants, the people who go inside are playing a part in its decay in its failure, in its collapse. You will have people trampling it under foot...this kind of pure crystal is not pure any more. It has got contaminants - the viewer itself is a contaminant and so it is really interesting to kind of see how the work will aesthetically change. It’s a piece which can sort of offer a certain level of spectacle. That you want to just be immediately engaged in and then you want to disengage yourself immediately too, then I think this is actually a piece of work that can actually achieve that. And I think also as well that then you can actually if you wanted to have a little bit longer as a reading you can actually read the clues, read the signs, that the work is offering perhaps and that might give a completely different reading because it is making is complicated and slightly strange. There was a lot of science involved... but it is not a scientific project. We have been on an interesting journey to actually achieve this piece.