Australian-first commission explores community building through art and architecture

The University of Queensland’s iconic sandstone towers will be reflected in the colours of Athens-based artist and architect, Andreas Angelidakis‘s latest high-profile project.

DEMOS (Sandstone) will be launched at The University of Queensland Art Museum on 3 August and comprises 50 large, lightweight, vinyl-covered blocks which will be reconfigured to form seating, a stage, study spaces, walls, monuments, archways and ruins.

UQ Art Museum Senior Curator Peta Rake said that while the term demos refers to the Athenian foundations of democracy, where only some citizens were allowed to speak, Angelidakis’s project disrupts that legacy.

“Throughout 2020/21, UQ Art Museum’s creative program Union is considering how people can come together and think through ideas via the lens of common purpose and collective action,” she said.

“DEMOS is the perfect vehicle for us to do that conceptually – to contemplate how we inhabit different spaces and architectures in our 2020 context, and how we make safe community spaces from a social distance that create sites of human exchange – whether it’s conversations, meetings, demonstrations or protests.

“We’re excited to be working with Andreas and to be the first Australian institution to commission this body of work that’s been shown at a number of significant international venues, particularly as it encourages campus engagement.”

UQ Art Museum Director Dr Campbell Gray said the colour of Angelidakis’s work commissioned for the UQ Art Museum is Australian sandstone and reflects the sandstone synonymous with UQ.

“DEMOS approaches architectural and colonial legacies through satire,” Dr Gray said.

“While the appearance of marble and concrete surfaces imply longevity – these blocks are actually light enough to lift.

“The fact that the blocks can be manipulated, moved and changed, despite their heavy appearance, causes us to ask questions about the histories and conventions of UQ and of universities in general.

“It also prompts us to consider the nature of art museums – environments where typically, precious things are presented and people are required not to touch them.

“In the case of DEMOS, we’re inviting people to engage with the work, to rearrange it, to think about it and to participate with it, which is an exciting prospect for students on campus too.

“Within the spaces and structures DEMOS offers, students from any discipline can engage with the work in endless ways to explore ideas and conversations.”

DEMOS will be ongoing at UQ Art Museum from 3 August.

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