Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Polly Gould | Danielle Arnaud, London

  • Cards Cards Evolution Lubetkin Polly-Gould-5-Penguin-Pool---telescope Radiolara
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Polly Gould | Danielle Arnaud, London
  • The past, in other words, is always contained in the present, not as its cause or its pattern but rather as its latency, its virtuality, its potential for being otherwise.
    Elizabeth Grosz, (2000), ‘Histories of the Feminist Future’, Signs, 25:4, pp. 1017-21, p. 1020.

    Penguins are undoubtedly old-fashioned in their appearance, but their looks are nothing like so old-fashioned as their history. They are really some of the most primitive behind-hand birds in existence.
    Edward Wilson, ‘Some remarks on Penguins’, The South Polar Times, Vol. 1, April to August 1902, (London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1907), pp. 3-9, p. 3.

    Penguin Pool plays on the pun of ‘pool’ as an entertaining architectural design for zoological display and gene pool, which fits the more recent conception of the zoo as a place for conservation of endangered species. Penguin Pool is a performative lecture modeled on the Edwardian magic lantern show as a vehicle for disseminating the geographical explorer’s tales. It begins with a slide of the penguins in the iconic 1934 design by Lubetkin (1901-1990) for the penguin pond at London Zoo, and ‘Some Remarks on Penguins,’ written for a lecture by the explorer Edward Wilson (1872-1912) during the Discovery expedition to Antarctica prepared in 1902. The work uses forty-six lantern-slides- the same as the number of chromosomes in the human genome – assembled by my efforts as an E-bay buyer, chosen to fit my current interests. Sometimes what is depicted has been forgotten, or is beyond recognition. These individual lantern images are uprooted from their initial narrative contexts and associated with this new one by linking them to a quotation. The audience was asked on their arrival to select from the display in the entrance hall a card on which one of the lantern images was printed. Each person had unwittingly become responsible for the quote on the reverse of the card that they would later be asked to read out aloud. Unselected cards meant unspoken citations during the performance. If the audience numbers were less than 46 there would not be enough people to perform the full text and the gaps of silence would be heard. For a species to survive its numbers must not go below an optimum number of individuals. It entailed a group effort to perform the narrative contained in the lantern-slide sequence. 


    I work as an artist and writer working on inter and transdisciplinary approaches to the histories and practices of observation in art and science, situated in broader cultural and historical contexts. I am interested in methodological inventiveness in order to address how matter and meaning coalesce in specific examples of artefacts, art works and material culture. In my work storytelling plays a strong part, either with performances that narrate the artworks in some way, or in the fictions and histories that inform the works. In collaboration with Anne Eggebert I have curated and produced the national touring Arts Council funded shows, Nature and Nation: Vaster than Empires, 2003, and  TOPOPHOBIA: Fear of Place in Contemporary Art, 2012 I studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, and have undertaken both Fine Art and Theory residencies at the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht, Netherlands. I completed a PhD in Art and Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London under the primary supervision of Prof Jane Rendell and secondary supervision of Prof Victor Buchli. During that time I participated in the Critical Spatial Practice: Site-writing module as a participant in 2012 and subsequently as a critic and tutor, as well as supporting curated forms coming out of the module for a number of public exhibitions of participants site-writing practices. The topic of my PhD has now been developed as a monograph titled Antarctica through Art and the Archive: the Polar Expeditions of Edward Wilson, Bloomsbury, 2019. From 2016 to 2019 I have been Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Design-led Architectural Research with ARC Architecture Research Collaborative, Newcastle University. I show with Danielle Arnaud in London


    I had long been interested in making writing that related to and with other practices in a non-hierarchical relation, so that the one is not interpretive and the other interpreted, but both are considered as parallel practices. I wanted to work with Jane as my PhD supervisor as I admired the way that site-writing engaged with the situated and embodied presence of the critic, and their relation to the site and the text. In my writing I have adopted a spatial manoeuvre of Entstelling or distortion from Freud’s dream analysis, along with the chiastic literary pattern to write about archives of Antarctic exploration.

    observation, Antarctica, climate change, archives


    architecture: Berthold Lubetkin (1901-1990), and Tecton Group 1934, The Penguin Pool at London Zoo, London, England. Reinforced concrete. film: László Moholy-Nagy, film, ‘The New Architecture of the London Zoo’, 1936, 16mm, b&w, silent/1S/ 15’30” book: Rosi Braidotti, (2006), Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics, (Polity Press, Cambridge and Malden MA.)

    Other projects
  • Signal/Noise: Ambient Text in the Urban Landscape (ongoing project)
  • Site Stories: explorations of urban spaces through drawing and animation (25–29 April 2022)
  • Rainbow Palace, Bergen, Norway (March 2022)
  •  Acanthus, (March 2022)
  • Unter der Hohen Brücke. 
digging in a ditch, writing for a place 
  • ‘Reading-writing alongside HALL08,’ HALL08 (2021)
  • Nothingness Beyond Blossom (2021)
  • Angelo Ciccaglione, ‘The back of the dust-machine, where the visitors pour the dust in,’ Rotterdam (2021)
    The Deposition of Dust (July 2021)
  • Skye Edge (April 2021)
  • Corvid-19 (15 March 2021)
  • 1_5
    Glòries_(Eixample). A dispositive for very slow aesthetic observation, (January 2021 –)
  • As Lightning to the Children Eased (January 2021)
  • Station F (October 2020)
  • It’s Just a Matter of Time (2020)
  • 1
    Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History,
    issue # 1: ‘beginnings,’ (2020)
  • Homekeeping-image_sml
    Homekeeping (2020)
  • City Embers (2020)
  • Between Our Words I will Trace Your Presence (February 2020)
  • What Remains (2019)
  • Situated Writing as Theory and Method (2019)
  • Parts Apart Read Together (2019)
  • Fields of Awareness, (2019, 3min 18 secs)
  • A Non-Aligned Narrative in and Around KSEVT, (2019)
  • 21 Orientations: An Atlas of Geographic Promiscuity (2019)
  • The Windowless Hotel Room (2018)
  • Spaces of Grief (2018)
  • Soft Landing (2018)
  • Shared Remains (April 2018)
  • Poetic Water Boundaries: towards a possible borderless sea, (2018)
  • Metropolitan Salem, Liuerpul (9 June – 18 August 2018)
  • Things Come Apart (21 – 24 March 2018)
  • Learn to Read Differently (2018)
  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Dear Mr. Jung: Inhabiting Carl Jung’s ‘The Red Book’ (May 2018)
  • A Lunar Perspective, (2018-2020)
  • Heaton Hall: A Palimpsest (2017)
  • Location (+) (2017)
  • There’s Sand in My Infinity Pool (2017)
  • Talking Quilts (April 2017)
  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Between Landscape and Confinement: Situating the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017)
  • Agency at the threshold, (2017)
  • A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground (2017)
  • The Glorious Tomb to the Memory of Nothing (2016)
  • The Arrival’s Reader; A Visual Literary Criticism on The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2016)
  • Reading as Art (27 August-19 November 2016)
  • Re: development (London: Silent Grid, 2016)
  • Kjemikerens død [The Death of the Chemist] (23 – 26 May 2016)
  • Kingsland High Street (2016)
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016 – 2018)
  • Fall of the Derwent (2016)
  • Away from Home – Home from Away (April 2016)
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Geography Lessons: Liberian Landmarks 1953-2013 (2015)
  • Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (2014)
  • The Writing on the Wall (after Rembrandt) (2014)
  • The Italic I (2014)
  • Designing Architecture as a Performing-Ground (2014)
  • Urban Literacy (2013/2014/2016)
  • The Disappearance: Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth (April 2013)
  • Folded Ground: Escape from Cape Town (2013)
  • Phantom Railings (2012 – 2017)
  • In The Emptiness Between Them (2012)
  • 10/08/12 (multispecies event) (2012)
  • An Arcades Project (2011)
  • Tideline (2010-2012)
  • The Museum of Breath (2010)
  • Slab (2010)
  • One wound. Two wounds. The body as site for writing (2010)
  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
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