Make Yourself Comfortable
Installation including sound, video, sculpture and light. Dimensions variable.
PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Photographs by Rosina Possingham
Make Yourself Comfortable I
Let us build grand things. Things of beauty and awe.
The people will be overjoyed. The people will be grateful.
The people will behave.
Let us use our design strategies to ensure that the people will have a good time. To ensure that they will be creative.
We understand what it takes to foster a sense of well-being. To accommodate the people in a way that is in their best interests. In a way that is in everyone's best interests.
There must be oversight.
Let us not forget the guiding principles that allow us to make sure that everyone feels comfortable. It needs to be equitable. It needs to be accommodating to everyone.
We can create things to make this happen.
We don't ask much in return for this generosity.
The people know how to behave in a civilised way. We can encourage this. We can make this happen.
Everyone will be comfortable.
Make Yourself Comfortable I
Brad Darkson exhibits objects of hostile architecture, lifted from our public spaces to reveal their cruel intentions and what is a systematic attack on vulnerable communities, the very communities who need public spaces. Often these objects are spikes, bars or rocks, strategically placed within public environments to make them inhospitable and deter certain people from utilising the area.
“These aggressive measures are part of the urban design strategy known as defensive architecture, or hostile architecture, and use elements of the built environment to restrict behaviours perceived as antisocial."(1) It’s not just behaviours that are targeted, but also certain populations of ‘undesirable’ people, particularly homeless and transit mob, with hostile architecture being used to deter mob from sleeping or congregating in certain spaces. ‘Anti-social’ also extends to sports like parkour and skating, undesirable behaviour that could infringe on peace in the public domain.
Brad Darkson’s exhibition Make Yourself Comfortable I at Pop Gallery focus on hostile architecture raises many questions about the intersections of capitalism, public spaces, housing and humanity. How we shape our public spaces to be only welcoming to certain people and for certain reasons, another way of reinforcing class hierarchies and pushing ‘the problem’ under the rug or better yet, out of this neighbourhood. There is great privilege in being able to use public spaces without a watchful gaze of authority, to be welcome to use it and even be oblivious to who is not welcomed. This is the power of hostile architecture, to be seamless yet effective, only evident to those it inconveniences. By exhibiting the piece the audience is forced to interact with their ugly truths, there is nowhere for the objects to blend in.
Hostile architecture is the result of when we see people as the problem, not the system or governments that cause people to be disadvantaged in the first place. It’s when we don’t create space to reflect the true needs for community, whether be a bed to sleep in or a halfpipe. It is when we prioritise private and corporate interests, when public space and park lands are being shaped and designed to prioritise the profits of another suit.
Hostility takes many forms, through architecture, government decision making, enforcement of law and within the attitudes the way we value each other as humans. Brad’s work is an act of truth telling, something gravely missing from our public spaces.
- Dominic Guerrera
 UNSW Sites. (n.d.). Defensive architecture: design at its most hostile. [online]