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figure wearing a piece of adrienne bennie's design, behind them the fence features hand-written words: 'i need more money'

Picturing the Invisible as a Spatial Designer

Written by Adrienne Bennie
Published date 31 August 2019

As a spatial designer the notion of the invisible has been embedded in my practice in a multitude of ways. The notion of the invisible in the recent Picturing the Invisible seminar was framed in terms of space, place and identity through the lens of spatial design. For some time now my practice has been positioned between art and design, exploring the junction and concern of real world design problems. The seminar was set in a context where we as artists, designers and members of society were offered the opportunity to rethink our respective disciplines when responding to the complexities of the world.

My own research sits within the field of interrogative design. It combines art and design practice as a critical design practice in order to highlight homelessness. Homelessness is an important social concept in art and design practice as it examines the way space is treated in relation to the body, public and private space. As a spatial designer, I bring certain skills and sensibilities towards domestic space in particular. My practice focuses on using design methods as a way to understand, or have a deepened understanding of certain situations. In this case that is the issue of homelessness. The aim of my research is not to propose design solutions as such to such a complex situation, but to investigate spatial practices that draw attention to and/or polemicise this social issue.

work by Adrienne Bennie, photograph featuring person sitting on the floor, with a headpiece designed for the homeless
Adrienne Bennie, Anonymised Inhabitant (2017)

The Picturing the Invisible seminar was a thought-provoking way to highlight the unknown within my discipline and research. It highlighted what the ‘invisible’ is in my practice and how it related to the unseen ways in which society orchestrates how people ‘should’ interact in public spaces and who can interact in these spaces. Additionally, my research invites the public to renegotiate their perception of homelessness and the area between public and private spaces. Finally, this seminar demonstrated how beneficial interdisciplinary research is today and the benefit of such research.

I am excited to continue the journey through this network to further develop my understanding of the invisible and negotiate my position within the invisible.

Adrienne Bennie is a doctoral candidate from Auckland, New Zealand pursuing her practice based PhD at UAL: Chelsea College of Arts. Her researchseeks to create a dialogue about how the city controls space for the homeless, challenging viewers of her installations within space to ask questions about society and how these constructed social spaces affect those experiencing them, identity and public perception of homelessness.