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Joe Moss: Model Village

Part of the Sensing Place programme, Model Village was an exhibition-making programme exploring the role of culture in the development of new towns. Over the course of the programme, participants were asked to make houses out of a variety of materials to be placed on tabletop-gaming landscapes, creating Model Village. Houses could be made at home as well as in the exhibition space and there were no rules regarding how they should look or what they should be made of, From assembled kebab shop napkins to modernist gems and pebble-dashed miniatures.

Model Village evolved from the previous London event in which 56 artists participated as a result of research undertaken on a residency at Eastcheap Projects in Letchworth Garden City (LGC). The project explored the development of LGC, the precursor to the new town developments which occurred in the 50s in response to vast overcrowding, and poor working & living conditions in London. The new towns movement saw rapid development in the 60-mile radius of London and included towns such as Northampton and Milton Keynes in its programme. The Arts and Crafts movement fabricated a directed culture for LGC which incorporated folk tradition, rituals and architecture. In Model Village, Moss explores the mechanics of this directed culture through facilitating a miniature ‘new town’ programme, seeing how a sense of place is manifested through exchange between people, alongside its physical properties.

David Harvey (2001) wrote that capitalism is always looking for a new “spatial fix” in order to resolve the tendencies of its inner crisis. With this in mind, Model Village invites participants to playfully explore eschewed dimensions of land, property, value, adventures of city Imagineering, deal-making and symbolic reinvestment. Performative strategies seek to tap into these energies as a way of gesturing beyond our truncated horizons. Urban fantasies emerge that manifest psychic, cultural, political, economic and spiritual legacies. One might ask to whom exactly is this place destined and who are these extravagant spaces for? Why invite fantasy when civic life and housing strategies are hampered by urgent social and political realities, a cost of living crisis, and communities subject to gentrification. Yet, cobbled together out of multiple imaginaries, the artist proposes a cultural orientation through other places and people and suggests that in dialogue with the repetitive character of the mechanical, industrial and planned commonplace, there is an essence that creates the places we inhabit.

Participation in the Model Village programme was open to all throughout its 2-week duration, with various workshops and making sessions to assist with building the collaborative artwork

The Model Village programme included: 

  • Two drop-in workshops, engaging young people in Northampton and NNCA Associates, held on the 19th of November (Landscape and House Building, 11-4pm) and 8th of December (3D Scanning, 12-5pm)
  • An opening event held on the 24th of November as part of the Sensing Place Symposium

Model Village is an artist commission as part of the Sensing Place Programme at NN Contemporary Art. 

About the Artist

Joe Moss: Artist and Creative Producer at The London School of Mosaic. Alongside making physical work, his practice includes a breadth of educational and facilitatory activities. Recent related projects include presenting at the Tate Exchange as part of the School of Civic Action, curating the show Underpinned by The Movements of Freighters and a residency at Eastcheap Projects in Letchworth Garden City, where he developed the Model Village programme.

3D scan of Model Village at NN Contemporary as part of Sensing Place
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