October 26, 2014 - Artangel - José Damasceno: Plot
October 26, 2014

José Damasceno: Plot

José Damasceno, Plot, at Holborn Library, London 2014. An Artangel commission. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

José Damasceno

until 23 November 2014

Holborn Library
32-38 Theobald’s Road
London WC1X 8PA
Hours: Monday–Thursday 10am–7pm,
Friday 10am–5pm, Saturday–Sunday 11am–5pm
Free entry


The first public site-specific project in the UK by the Brazilian sculptor José Damasceno, Plot unfolds  within the spaces of Holborn Library, a four-story building that was opened in 1960 as the first multi-functional, large-scale post-war library in London.

Plot has evolved from a period of research into London, its architecture and social history, as well as absorbing influences ranging from Jonathan Swift to Max Ernst, and Hammer Horror to Monty Python and William Harvey, the man who discovered blood circulation.

Fed by this process, Plot has emerged as a series of sculptural works and interventions made from both traditional materials including marble, clay and wood, and the less conventional such as a 24-volume set of the 1960 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. These works co-habit various spaces within the Library, including the public lending library and the local history archive, and will draw visitors deeper into parts of the building that are not normally accessible, such as a former auditorium-cum-cinema on the top floor.

A project that is experienced at first subtly and suggestively, existing on the peripheries of vision for those who regularly use the library, Plot becomes more beguiling and complex as it is further explored and examined. Its structure, and the function of the building to which it responds, suggests the kinds of journeys often associated with reading of classic literature: journeys to lands that exist in the imagination, places of fantasy, allegory and satire, of disorienting landscapes peopled by strange objects and characters, shifts in scales and perspective, where the familiar is transformed or seems alien.

Damasceno is interested in the way that coincidence and happenstance can also impact upon his work and Plot reflects the kind of journey that has been open to the unexpected. As a result, the works installed at Holborn Library not only respond to the architecture of the building, but also incorporate ideas and images found along the way, each of which becomes a trigger for an imaginative process, creating a dynamic almost cinematic experience of looking at space.

Plot is accompanied by a programme of public events:

David Kohn
“Plotting Spaces”
Monday 27 October, 6:30pm
Swedenborg Hall, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

Professor John Ó Maoilearca
“Paraconsistent Perception”
Monday 10 November, 6:30pm
Swedenborg Hall, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

Siobhan Davies, Helka Kaski and Jonathan Cole
“Manual—Choreography and the Everyday”: lecture & demonstration
Monday 17 November, 6:30pm
Holborn Library, 32-38 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8PA

José Damasceno was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1968, where he continues to live and work. His versatile approach encompasses sculpture, drawing and collage. The interplay between his various methods influences his work, creating installations characterised by a sharp and idiosyncratic sense of humour. 

Artangel commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists. Over the past two decades, Artangel projects have materialised in a wide range of different sites and situations and in countless forms of media, from film and video to sculpture and sound installations.

Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of the Artangel International Circle, Special Angels and The Company of Angels.

With thanks to the London Borough of Camden and all the staff at Holborn Library.


Artangel presents José Damasceno: Plot
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