Industrial Imprisonment 1811-2011 (diptych), 2016

Glass art
glass, steel and magnets
77 x 55 x 2.2 cm (x2)
Date of acquisition

This glass diptych represents cartographic views of the city of London in 1811 and in 2011. Made of antique stained glass and steel, this idea by Mirko Baselgia was designed by craftspeople from different trades, and showcases the Swiss artist’s passion for urban planning and his apprenticeship in architecture as well as his MA in Fine Arts from Zürich. The two maps look similar; the basic urban configuration seems unchanged, yet one realises that the 2011 version has a more functional and rational structure. The addition of bridges and more direct routes allow for new social and economic standards.

The choice of materials for the work was the result of long reflection in order to show the processes of industrialisation in the two hundred years between the works. Steel was an obvious choice, and water was used to represent the steam used in machines, locomotives and boats. The liquid and transparent character of antique glass proved to be the most appropriate medium to represent water.

With these representations, the artist questions the relationship between the place where we live and the structure of our brain. Will the brain structure of a person growing up in a metropolis be different from that of a person living in the countryside? Is there a link between the way we live and think and the structural characteristics of our environment?