Jo Dennis & Dido Hallett: Asylum
SLAM Magazine, London
An inteview with co-founders of Asylum Projects, Jo Dennis and Dido Hallett for South London Art Map (SLAM) Magazine. Asylum is an artist-led organisation based in Caroline Gardens Chapel in Peckham, London. It was founded in 2010 and is directed by artists Jo Dennis and Dido Hallett.
The interview focused on the history of Asylum Projects and their unique venue at Caroline Gardens Chapel in Peckham, as well as their sites ‘Safehouse 1 & 2’ behind the Copeland Estate. In particular, I asked about the challenges and opportunities that come with working in an unconvential venue, what they had learnt so far and their plans for the future.
“Charlie Mills: Do you think the peculiarities of your space lend a certain something to artists/exhibitions, over and above the formalities of the white-cube milieu? And if so is that what attracted you to the space in the first place?
Jo Dennis & Dido Hallett: Asylum is a challenging space to hang a show in as the space is a work of art in itself, when putting on an exhibition in this space a lot of the white cube rules have to be disregarded and new ones made up. Some of the best shows we have had are the site specific ones that work with the space and look into its history and use the unique atmosphere of the chapel. When we first saw the space we knew instantly that this was something special and would be an amazing opportunity for any artist to get their hands on! We have recently taken on another intriguing and challenging space ‘Safehouse 1’ on Copeland Road in Peckham, last month the 2nd year illustration and graphics Camberwell College and students put on a show there.
CM: How does co-running and directing the space usually play out? Do you both take equal responsibility for the management/curation of your exhibitions? Similarly, is there a certain process that you follow when producing an exhibition or does it change with every project?
JD&DH: It changes with every project, sometimes one of us will take a more involved approach and sometimes we are completely hands off. We have collaborated with other artist lead groups and curated with other artist/curators. The exhibitions and events we have are a mixture of Asylum projects and other people renting the space. We have had shows with students from Camberwell, Goldsmiths, central St Martins, RCA and with more established artists. We have recently started a residency programme curated by Ed Ball who is on the MA curation course at the RCA. We generally work with artists who are passionate about the space and want to show there rather than source artists and curators.”