STUART BRISLEY, Next Door (the missing subject), 2010

Maya Balcioglu

Next Door (the missing subject), 2010

Next Door (the missing text) First Day 12.5.2010

Next door is an abandoned retail outfit. It seems to contain the detritus of at least three businesses, a sign making company, electrical retailer and a bookshop. There are also some records of applications made by children to a charity of some kind. It exhibits all the evidence of abandonment. It is owned by the local council and has been shuttered down for some considerable period. There are signs of flooding which came from the toilet and sink.

No attempt is being made to rectify or to conserve these conditions.

No reformation or conservation.

On entry at 2.30pm the shutter was raised and the door unlocked. On entry I was immediately reminded of the Conservative Party’s sloganizing banality - The Broken Society. If there is such a thing here it is: a reference in microcosmic form.

Next door in its way is analogous to 'the belly of the beast'.

R Y Sirb

Next Door (the missing text) Second Day 13.5.2010

There is more than one subject.

There are two other rooms filled with detritus and a storage section reached by a ladder to a space with a very low ceiling. There is a long wooden table in the front room facing the street which has been destabilised and covered with other pieces of furniture. Now the space is full of traps and dangerously placed objects. It can only be negotiated from the edges of the room.

Out of control. There is an elephant in the room.

Next Door might be seen as a metaphor for several issues.

There is more than one elephant.

A reference to the monarchy is in the room.


Republic: a non-partisan pressure group advocating the replacement of the United Kingdom's monarchy with a democratically-elected head. Republic criticises Prince Charles for publicly expressing views and lobbying on political issues, as being unconstitutional.

Jean Genet: The Balcony.

Next Door (the missing text) Third Day 14.5.2010

A portrait of the Queen is now placed next door next to the mirror. It complements the other of Prince Charles in the Gallery.

Materially it is a pile of refuse. Metaphorically meaning is conditioned by the parameters of imagination.

The missing text (subject) is in effect a number of subjects. For instance the subject of monarchy above parliamentary is conspicuously absent from the debate about the constitutional reform. E.g - the recent election where the electroral reform became an urgent issue.

Next Door is a mute heap.

The custodianship of the Next Door does offer the chance to consider what it might represent, and of course it is a thing in itself.

The elephants in the room are in the mind.

The long table was de-stabilised by itself, suddenly lurching sideways to the floor. There was another move later like a mini aftershock as everything was inadvertently re-arranged.


The painting by Caspar David Friedrich entitled the Arctic Shipwreck, 1823-24

Next Door (the missing text) Fourth Day 15.5.2010

Progress has slowed and become more deliberate, more specific. The bulk of the material is now largely filling the space. It is solid in part but also deceptively unstable. It requires attention for the sake of personal safety if nothing else. There is a long bench running almost the length of the space which is in the process of being disassembled. Underneath were two long ladders now part of the heap and the fascia of a shop front which is wedged under the table. This needs to be released but will endanger the current configuration of the installation.


As the heap has become more stable I have been able to consider other elements. The moving of heavy objects etc produced sounds which were not controlled. They just happened in the natural order of things. Yesterday and today I made some controlled sounds using what comes to hand in the search for sound which might complement what is seen. I have found something which evokes a non specific but provocative sound of something like old heavy machine in action,. It is a kind of creaking squealing sound of metal against metal (although it is not made in this way.

It complements the presence of the image of the monarchy resting above the activity.

The fact that there is a non democratic stratum at the apogee of society conditions the realities of parliamentary democracy itself and is one of the factors contributing to the rumbling dissatisfaction with what parliament stands for and whom it serves.

The elephant in the room is a spectre not yet on the stage.


Other works by Stuart Brisley referring to the monarchy:

Celebration for Due Process (performance ) in the festival Come Together at the Royal Court Theatre 1970

Works on the monarchy in the exhibition `Black` South London Gallery, 1996.

And others at:

Next Door (the missing text) Fifth Day 16.5.2010

The last piece of installed furniture, a long table stretching from the front to the back of the room was dismantled releasing two equally long ladders and a heavy shop fascia. The table top is still attached to the wall and hangs down at an angle.

This addition has added to the overall sense of a collapsed system.

The mirror has been broken and adds to the sense of abandonment of a once functioning system of free enterprise.

The heap has begun to settle in on itself. Some items are locked in by others. And other parts are still unstable.

The sound has been intensified to some extent. Its characteristics less reminiscent of older industrial machinery. It sometimes has a hollow mournful ring and at others is more urgent and grating. It could be analogous to a human voice.

Next Door (the missing text) Sixth Day 19.5.2010

Further additions to the heap include a television set, a cupboard minus doors and some long translucent plastic strips. The heap rather than settling as anticipated is growing slowly higher while the base is static and locked in. The heap would have to be dismantled in order to change it’s formation.

Ref : desire for change, for movement, for life.

Meanwhile the glass protecting the image of the monarch has been broken in an accident. It joins the mirror which was also broken on the fifth day. (instigating seven years bad luck as the saying goes).

The heap is potentially dangerous , lethal even, as it is made up of some heavy objects which are not locked in as the base appears to be. Negotiating it requires constant vigilance to avoid injury. There have been some minor injuries sustained to fingers an arm and an ankle, but nothing to inhibit further activity.

The heap overseen by the image of the monarch set in a damaged frame offers fresh interpretations.

We are now inside the belly of the beast.

Next Door (the missing text) Seventh Day 20.5.2010

The heap is now literally dangerous when approached individually. It is relatively easy to accommodate provided no real attempt is made to change it. Minor modifications are possible. There are unseen dangers lurking in the intricacies of its perverse formation. If another pair of hands were available the difficulties involved would be considerably reduced. More hands would exponentially annul the danger.

The central structure deep within slipped unexpected as the heap settled again.

More objects have been added and it now stands as high as it was.

The image of the monarchy is more or less stable provided it is not touched as what it rests on is also in a fragile state. The broken glass of the frame is the result of a parodic incident.

The outer reaches can be changed here and there so that the appearance can be altered as long as its perversely placed vital parts are left intact.

A shell of a thing.

The gilded cage kills the mocking bird.

Next Door (the missing text) Eighth Day 21.5.2010

Slowly two back rooms and a low ceilinged attic type space are being plundered in the search for movable objects for the heap.

There is massive amount of detritus to be looked through. A number of newspapers from the 2nd World War have been found, one carrying the words Hitler Is Dead as a huge headline. Two computers have been added with more cupboards, shelving, two calor gas heaters and a television set. The heap reached the ceiling for the first time and then spontaneously slipped down.

The use of public images of symbolic power is of course a common feature of art. Velasques. Goya. Warhol.

The misappropriation of images of monarchy arguably infringes unspoken codes of conduct between rulers and subjects.

Power is visible through the sign.

The heap is not controllable.

Next Door (the missing text) Ninth Day 22.5.2010.

The portrait of the monarch has been moved to allow it to be seen through the hole in the wall and to safeguard it from further damage.

The lights went out.

The heap has acquired an asymmetry due to the shape of its surroundings. There is a tortuous route between its face and the back section. It resembles a barricade, being frontal with the back section leading on to two other rooms full of abandoned materials, objects and equipment.

The accompanying intermittent sound is now being made a few octaves lower than the earlier higher pitched metallic screeching. It is more like a discordant rumbling and groaning which seems to complement the presence of the heap.

In the cycles of repetition interrupted by accidents and events beyond human control, the implications of chaotic dynamism are reduced as the unfree misery of the everyday slowly takes precedence. Stoicism is the order of the day.

Tomorrow is another day.

The elephant in the room is merely a chimera or is it?


Delacroix painting: Liberty Leading the People

Gericault: The Raft of the Medusa

Next Door (the missing text) Tenth Day 23.5.2010

The monarch is still in place in an insignificant position due to the size of the heap. The view of it through the hole in the wall is obscured by the heap.

The new low sound is more like that of a cello, although there is far less control as the sound moves slightly up and down the register. It offers a low melancholic rumble to the dissonant heap.

The heap reached to the ceiling in the last few days. Now it has been dearranged into a turbulent lateral scene, roughly a metre and a half deep or so. In the process some sturdy objects, cupboards fell apart as though giving up the ghost in the confusion. Fixed shelves fell away, sides, fronts and doors collapsed.

The monarch now in full view looks to the sky.

The huge animal in the room has been collapsed like a deflating ballooncadaver.

It is done, a scene of agitation, but in essence nothing has changed.

The last mordant sounds echo in the room and out through the now open door.