Between 2019 and 2020, They Are Here are undertaking a research residency at Arts Catalyst.
They Are Here (f.2006) is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker & Harun Morrison. They are currently based in London and on the River Lea. Their work can be read as a series of context specific games. The entry, invitation or participation can be as significant as the game's conditions and structure. Through these games, they seek to create ephemeral systems and temporary, micro-communities that offer an alternate means of engaging with a situation, history or ideology. They Are Here work across media and types of site, particularly civic spaces. Institutions they have developed or presented work include: CCA Glasgow, Grand Union, Konsthall C, Southbank Centre, South London Gallery, Studio Voltaire, STUK and Tate Modern.
They Are Here have been developing a new audio-visual work, BRUNO, that combines footage of a narrowboat journey down the River Lea with field recordings, unaccompanied song and ambient electronic music.
They also extend their research into Wardian Cases, first built in 1829 and developed by the naturalist Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw. These cases enabled plants to be transported across long distances that would have previously died en route or would otherwise only be circulated as seeds. The Wardian Case also disrupted geographic monopolies, for example, the British were able to ship plants smuggled from China to start plantations in British occupied India, or take rubber trees from Brazil to Sri Lanka, at the time another British occupied territory. In this way, the Wardian Case and its enabling of the circulation of plants for commercial or medicinal purposes was inseparable from and integral to Britain’s colonial ambitions across the 19th century. This corresponded with a Victorian fashion to house plants in elaborately designed terrariums, often modelled on Neo-Classical buildings such as The Grand Exhibition Palace (1851). Their research around these cases and terrariums informs Prototypes for New Wardian Cases (2019). These material structures are modelled on non-European architectural histories, they function as speculative design asking ‘ what would botanical cases aboard 19th-century vessels setting sail from the Global South to Europe have looked like?’