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“In Neanderthal settlements [...] space became a malleable template constructed to express, to reproduce through time, and also to challenge social order and divisions”.
– David Lewis-Williams, The Mind in the Cave

Against Nature is an exhibition about architecture, landscape and nature. It is also about the guilt, power, loss and hope intrinsic to architecture.

Architecture is always against nature. Against as in next to. Against as in contrasting. Against as in protecting. Against as in anticipating. Against as in resisting. Against as in facing. Against as in touching. Against as in challenging. Against as in opposing. Against as defending. Against as defying. Against as a debit. Against as towards. Against as before. Against as comparison. Against as compensation. Against as contradicting. Against as preparation. Against as supporting.

The show features two new series of works by Sam Jacob. Ritual Litter features additions of coloured elements to antique prints of neolithic monuments. Against Nature is made up of found landscape oil paintings with black geometric forms painted into them.

These traditions of landscape and objects-in-landscapes come with their own ideas about separation from and remaking of nature. Their reworking suggests architecture’s symbolic and ritualistic power to summon new kinds of world and new ways of being in the world. To rearrange the world socially, politically, economically, and environmentally. Architecture as a conceptual act projected onto the land that contains the possibility of liberation, and the potential to reconstruct the home we have never had.

“Setting up great stones was an enormous psychological act, further removing the agriculturalists from their formerly harmonious rela- tionship with the earth. And it is that initial separation from the earth, over 5000 years ago, which has opened up into such a great cleft over the ensuing years and caused so great a feeling of cultural dispossession and hopeless guilt”
– Julian Cope, The Modern Antiquarian

Sam Jacob is principal of Sam Jacob Studio for architecture and design, whose work spans scales and disciplines from urban design through architecture, design, art and curatorial projects.

Jacob has been professor of architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago since 2011 and has taught at the TU Wien, University of Hong Kong, Yale, Karlsruhe HfG, ABK Stuttgart and the AA in Lon-don where he also established AA Nightschool, a program that opened up new ways of sharing of architectural knowledge. He is currently a member of the governing council of the Architectural Asso-ciation, London.

His studio’s recent built projects include the V&A’s first international gallery in Shenzhen, a new home for the Cartoon Museum in London, an office and event space for Art Review, a gallery in south London, a mixed use building in London’s Hoxton, the remodeling of the V&A’s Cromwell Road entrance, and the National Collections Centre for the Science Museum Group housing over 300,000 objects in a new 27000sqm building.

Exhibitions include curation and exhibition design of The Lie of the Land at MK Gallery exploring the ideologies of landscape and planning, Museum Show at DKUK commissioning responses to the phe-nomena of contemporary museums by architects, artists and designers. Exhibition design projects in-clude Fear and Love at the Design Museum London and an exhibition on landscape with Piet Ouldolf at Shunck, Heerlen, NL.

Solo exhibitions include Disappear Here on perspective, power and representation at the RIBA Gal-lery (2018) and Empire of Ice Cream at Betts Project (2019) showing a series of experimental archi-tectural drawings.

Jacob has contributed to the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, 2016 and 2014 (where, as part of FAT he was co-curator of the British Pavilion) and 2012, Pattern as Politics at the Lisbon Architec-ture Triennale (2019, with Priya Khanchandani) and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (2017).

He has been a columnist for the Architects Journal, Art Review and Dezeen and is the author of ‘Make It Real, Architecture as Enactment” published by Strelka Press.

Through the parallel activities of criticism and proposition Jacob displays a continuing interest in the way architecture manifests and embodies social and cultural ideas.

Previously he was a founding director of FAT Architecture.

For more information, please contact Marie Coulon (marie@bettsproject.com)

Sam Jacob: Against Nature
Image: Sam Jacob, Ritual Litter / Dolmen with cup-marked cap-stone, 2022, acrylic on 1882 antique paper, H29.7 x 22.3 cm © Betts Project

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