Otra Vida

Photography: Bernard Creely

Otra Vida

‘Underworld’, an interactive installation in a 300 square metres basement, came together as part of the closure and demolition of Rotherhithe Library. The space became a large cemetery for objects. For one day only, visitors were invited to rescue one object of their choice from the burial ground.

Ranging from expensive antiques to animal remains found in the streets, rivers and markets of London, these objects were part of a collection started in 2005. Always selected carefully, they were often broken pieces out of use, some with a Victorian feel, capturing the nostalgia of a bygone era.

Visitors were invited to come into the ‘Underworld’ on their own. After walking down the stairs they entered a pitch-black corridor at the end of which they encountered a door with an invitation to enter the basement.

As the dimmed light would slowly grow brighter, the light bulb’s sound vibrated throughout the space. Slowly the visitors would discover a huge empty room with objects lying around a piano and a straw boat by the artist Aine O’Dywer. Visitors were invited to stay in the space for as long as needed and to choose one of the objects to take with them if they wished to do so.

Rotherhithe Library was closed to the public in 2011. From December 2011 to July 2015 it became the work and living space for a group of artists. Preparations for demolition took over a year, and the Library was finally demolished in August 2016.

’Underground’ happened in June 2015, only few weeks before the closure of the building. The remaining objects that the visitors didn’t pick stayed intact inside the basement so that the demolition of the Library would act as their burial ground.