Date of Publishing:
October 4, 2021

© Catherine Yass

Falling Away - Symposium

22 Oct 21, 10-18:30 BST

University of Westminster, School of Architecture + Cities

35 Marylebone Road

London NW1 5LS

United Kingdom

The symposium will bring together researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of disciplines to discuss the agency of falling in contemporary culture. Metaphors of falling are often evoked to describe the current period of insecurity and instability. At the same time, the built environment reflects and in turns reproduces this state of suspension: while high-rise construction reshapes the landscapes of cities around the world, including London, its impact on our perception of gravity is yet to be understood. Typically defined as ‘the force that makes objects fall toward the earth’, gravity is so pervasive that we may overlook the multiple ways in which we rely on, and resist, it on a daily basis.

How do creative practices engage with the perception of gravity, balance and falling? Can they mediate our fears and desires to lose the ground? What links can be drawn between the vertiginous spaces of our cities and the conditions of social instability in which we live? These and other related issues will be addressed from a variety of perspectives drawing on art, architecture, design, geography, psychology, and dance. Structured around a series of conversations, the symposium will conclude with a panel discussion with the artist Catherine Yass.

The event is organised in conjunction with Falling Away, a major exhibition of Catherine Yass’s work in Ambika P3. Curated by Davide Deriu and Michael Mazière, the exhibition comprises seven vertiginous films of modern architectural structures that embody the institutions which built them. Spanning the past two decades, it is the first retrospective of the artist’s extensive body of film work in the UK. The joint events are aligned with the Vertigo in the City project based at the School of Architecture + Cities, University of Westminster.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond, Artists-Researchers and Professors of Artistic Research, University of Applied Arts Vienna
  • Amy Butt, Practising Architect and Lecturer in Architecture, University of Reading
  • Emilyn Claid, Dance artist, director, performer and educator
  • John Golding, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Westminster
  • Andrew Harris, Associate Professor in Geography and Urban Studies, University College London
  • Catherine James, Art Historian and Lecturer in Academic Practice, University of the Arts London
  • Michael Mazière, Ambika P3 curator and Reader in Film and Video, University of Westminster
  • Brendan Walker, Thrill Engineer and Professor of Creative Industries, Middlesex University
  • Catherine Yass, London-based artist
  • Convenor: Davide Deriu, School of Architecture + Cities, University of Westminster

A full programme for the seminar will be made available shortly.

Register here.

View the Falling Away Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition: Catherine Yass – Falling Away

22 October – 20 November 2021

Visitor Information:
Opening hours:
Tuesday–Fri, 11am–7pm,
Sat–Sun, 12pm–6pm

Ambika P3
35 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5LS
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7911 5876
Nearest tube: Baker Street

The exhibition Falling Away brings together Catherine Yass’s vertiginous film installations at Ambika P3. The first retrospective of the artist’s extensive body of film work, it spans the past two decades and includes a new work made in response to the impact of COVID-19 and global warming. Ambika P3’s vast subterranean space will engage audiences in the disorientating effects of Yass’s films, which portray architecture in a state of construction, abandonment or demolition. By engaging with our perception of verticality, these works address the relationship between material structures and the powers and institutions that embody them.

The exhibition provokes us to think about the conditions of social and psychological instability in which we currently live. It draws attention to the vital role of public services, whose fragility has been exposed by the ongoing pandemic. For example, one of Yass’s films documents a hospital undergoing demolition from the perspective of the dying building, revealing a beleaguered NHS; in another film, the BBC appears vulnerable as its visionary TV Centre is dismantled for real estate. The sensory impact of these works will be fully experienced when exhibited in Ambika P3.

Since its inception, Ambika P3 has been developing innovative methods for forming a distinctly experimental art site, rather than a gallery or cinema. This exhibition will further question the multiple relationships between artist, image, space, and viewer, as well as the collaborative role of the curator as designer and co-producer.

Falling Away is co-curated by film-maker and Ambika P3 curator Michael Mazière and Davide Deriu, Reader in Architectural History & Theory at the University of Westminster. The exhibition is informed by Deriu’s research into vertigo in the city as well as Maziere’s interdisciplinary curatorial practice. It will be accompanied by a symposium, secondary school and community workshops. An exhibition catalogue, freely available in print and open access, comprises essays by art writers, historians and critics as well as by the curators.

This exhibition is generously supported by: Arts Council England; British Academy; University of the Creative Arts; University of Westminster’s Research Communities and CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media).