Sandi Nur’s The Other Side of the Wall is a durational installation hosted by Mevlana Kebabs, which features miniature interiors in the form of a four storey apartment complex. The exterior of the building resembles a sizable trunk intended presumably for either a long, or one-way journey. Positioning both her conception of home and the artwork itself as portable Nur’s installation appears to question what it means to be both ‘local’ and physically and permanently located, while referencing Fluxus Editions of the 1960s that sought to shift the value and accessibility of the art object into the lived experience of the everyday.
The ground floor of the apartment, currently occupied by an art gallery, is not, according to Nur, the focus of the work. It does, however, seem a logical choice following the closure of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in April 2018. Echoing her frustration with the lack of prioritisation of the maintenance of local arts and cultural institutions, Nur states “I put it at the bottom because that’s kind of at the bottom of the pile of everything in this town at the moment isn’t it”. It appears, therefore, as no coincidence that we, as the viewer, are on the other side of the wall - looking in, catching only an enticing glimpse of the collections within. Inspired by her research into her ancestry, Nur creates an inaccessible, while partially visible, public space reminiscent of both the present state of the Southland Museum & Art Gallery, and the memories and associations we often internalise about our family ancestry.
Nur’s domestic interiors are eerily vacant, exhibiting the constructed facade of what could be perceived as a home, but remains, at this stage, vacant and conspicuously un-lived in. Waiting perhaps, as indicated by the detritus associated with home renovations, for an imminent arrival. We are afforded the opportunity to gaze upon the traces of presence - the artworks, the crates waiting to be unpacked, the patterned carpet in an otherwise bare living area. Alluding to notions of the home as portable, there is a clear sense of dislocation and isolation in the packaging of domestic spaces into miniatures limited to the confines of a trunk. Any occupants, the work suggests, are largely invisible. Their traces of presence contained and disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the lived environment perhaps signifying the isolation often accompanied by trying to create a home in unfamiliar contexts. Those coming and going from the kebab shop become part of the ongoing surveillance of the apartment as evidence of occupation grows – book shelves and other items of furniture are gradually materialising.
KM: What do you think about this site (Mevlana), in terms of producing and exhibiting your work - rather than creating the work and putting it in a gallery space?
SN: You get a different diverse group of people, and that’s what it’s about – diversity, so you get diversity here, you don’t get diversity in a gallery.