Arebyte proudly presents Concertina, a bringing together of people, events and space, by Richard Wentworth. It launches arebyte’s new site at London City Island; the future home to arebyte Gallery, artist’s studios and a dedicated co-working space.

Opening during Frieze Art Fair on Thursday 5th October, Concertina’s events will happen in, on and around a collection of structures by Apparata (Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo Brennan) that explore the social potential of art spaces and transform the gallery into an environment for openness and discussion. ‘Cities result from comings and goings.

We find our place. We seldom know much of the past of a city. We are poor at explaining, even to ourselves, how we come to be there. Cities, like us, are propelled by encounters. With Apparata, I have devised Concertina as a laboratory, a place where meetings will undoubtedly happen; >this is somewhere to be remembered for the quality of its encounters. A happenstance, a tiny darn in the fabric of London.

(Richard Wentworth, August 2017)

Concertina is comprised of two free-standing and one wall-erected companionways. The staircases, built of plywood, stand suggestively in the space, creating various focal points alluding to an event waiting to happen. Whether it be a series of talks and workshops, a board meeting, or a friendly lunch between friends, the stairs are there to allow for social interactions to occur.

As a continuation of Wentworth’s 2013 work on the Black Maria with Gruppe (of which Lobo Brennan was a founding member), the constructed interferences highlight the mundanity of everyday architecture – or that which we take for granted – and asks the viewer to look at our everyday interactions with fresh eyes, to reexamine the world around us. The work reflects Smitham and Lobo Brennan’s ongoing work into what role structure has in cultivating spontaneous and informal occupation.

With Concertina, Wentworth lays the foundations on which a heavily prescribed gallery space can become a social sphere, but also highlights the point at which a city becomes a communal environment – a place for ideas and creation, both physically and figuratively, within and beyond the gallery. The creation of the staircases allows Wentworth to question the potential of such “non-places” in becoming areas of social exchange – the town square, the agora, the church, the pub, the community centre, the school, the rehearsal space, the studio, and the gallery merge together, enabling new conversations between disparate groups. Concertina is situated within the new development of London City Island, an area previously occupied by shipbuilders, glass and coal industries, now home to a new residential neighbourhood. The site is largely undisturbed and Concertina begs for agitation. Whether the construction is seen as a sculpture or simply an architectural addition, the work seeks to provide more than its aesthetic qualities: the social connections it may create become the work and are thus integral to it.

Art spaces, their remit, intentions and obligations are shifting and Concertina calls for an unusual openness and fluidity, hence marking the tension that lies between the private and the public. How accessible is the public domain and how closed are private spaces? And is the intention of ‘accessibility’ enough to summon [a] social movement? Concertina invites and enables action – it is a demand for life, movement and energy in a world full of inertia.

Arebyte’s relocation is the result of a collaboration between Ballymore, the developers of London City Island; the pioneering Studiomakers initiative, led by Outset Contemporary Art Fund; and arebyte Gallery.