The Ethics of Dust is an installation by artist and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos, it hangs at the Houses of Parliament. Commissioned by Artangel, the piece is a 50 metre-long latex cast of Westminster Hall’s east wall. Despite its monumental scale, the piece’s soft translucency blends in with its ornate surroundings.
The piece invites slow, mindful observation, drawing the visitor in with its enigmatic and richly textured presence. Entering the space at the back of the piece, observing its folds, the joints in the texture, it becomes clear that it is mirroring the wall behind, every last detail of it. These monumental skins of latex, moving gently as visitors pass by, contain a thousand years of history.
Initially drawn to the piece for its ghost-like presence, I was reminded of Rachel Whiteread’s ‘House’, also commissioned by Artangel in 1993.
I didn’t realise that in this instance, the latex casting is in fact a by-product of the conservation process. Otero-Pailos’s art-making works hand-in-hand with his conservation work. I thought it was beautiful anyway – the fact that it helped clean the ancient wall makes it all the more fascinating.
Read more about the project on the Artangel website.