Exploring the relationship between disability and architecture

Noëmi Lakmaier

About five years ago, I accidentally locked myself into the disabled toilet at Homebase in Winchester. The lock was stuck and I could not get it to turn. While I was adjusting to the twinkling light and the pungent smell of industrial disinfectant I became aware of the space that surrounded me. All the tiles and pipes, grids vents, and strings seemed grotesque and somehow really fascinating. As I was more and more brutally trying to force the lock open, it occurred to me how rarely these details would be paid any attention.

It took me about 10 minutes to get out. This brief encounter with a toilet was one of the most defining moments in my obsessional fascination with clinical and industrial 'matter-of-fact' space. Functional built space and peoples' interaction with it are fundamental to my practice as an artist and my research.

I design and build special installations using the utilitarian language and physical qualities of functional public spaces. The work challenges viewers with the necessity to negotiate space while moving within it. The viewers' total involvement with the work and his/her multi-sensual experience of the space become integral. The work evokes implicit issues of constraint and exposure by strategically utilising and supplely altering a well known socio-visual language; forcing the viewers to see what is normally overlooked.

Arts Council England