20 Years Of Exhibitions
August 2019 marks 20 years of programming at Cell Project Space, founded and built by artists in 1999 by Milika Muritu & Richard Priestley who remain as directors of the organisation. Originally located in a run down former Victorian furniture factory in Tyssen St, Dalston, Cell began as 12 artists’ studios with a small artist-run project space alongside it. Initially set up as a testing ground to take risks, initiate new conversations and to challenge the status quo around exhibition formats the space was formed in the wake of buoyant market forces that took hold in the early 2000s. Due to the site’s redevelopment in 2001, Cell moved deeper into Dalston to ‘Ideal House’, Arcola St, a dilapidated former textiles factory, where a 5 year lease enabled the studio provision to be expanded generating greater sustainability for the gallery and its programme resulting in ambitious collaborations on and off site to include institutions such as 'MAMA Showroom', Rotterdam, 'Serpentine Gallery', London 'Cooper Gallery', Dundee, 'Blank Projects', Cape Town and a project commission for the '6th Sharjah Biennial'. In 2003 the Gallery and HQ were relocated to their Bethnal Green site, whilst building and nurturing a hugely treasured adjacent public garden; part of a conscious effort to temper the expected hard edges of 'institutional' space alongside a new ground floor project room recently established in the summer this year.
The gallery has had many iterations throughout its 20 years and represented and supported several generations of artists remaining open to the unknown, and creating the conditions in which others can share this opportunity. Cell 's programme has been shaped by the programme's curator, Milika Muritu and an array of fellow thinkers and their popular front of friends and peers with many highlights initiated by the likes of curators Rebecca Lewin, Laura McClean-Ferris, Attilia Fattori Franchini, Morgan Quaintance, Femke Oortwijn, Tobias Czudej, João Laia, and Elise Lammer with more recent work by Tim Steer who became the gallery’s first Associate Curator and Rachael Davies Cell's Gallery Manager & Public Programme Curator. After two decades Cell has continued to stay financially independent and in the margins of a growing professionalised art-world, finding strategies to financially support hundreds of artists who have not yet benefited from wider critical, curatorial or commercial attention. At a moment in the gallery’s 20 year history, Cell's future programme will reflect on the past and re-examine approaches to working outside mainstream institutions, the concept and practice of collectivity and its resistance to social acquiescence along with the role and position of the historical archive today.
Programming as part of our 20 Year celebration includes: 'Shit and Doom - NO!art', the first major presentation of the movement in the UK; a collaborative exhibition between artist Alex Margo Arden and artist-writer Caspar Heinemann, THE FARMYARD IS NOT A VIOLENT PLACE AND I LOOK EXACTLY LIKE JUDY GARLAND; the first presentation of work from the experimental dance group X6 Collective (1976–80); and a forthcoming solo exhibition and new commission by American artist Carolyn Lazard.