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Fashion Space Gallery, located at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London is pleased to announce Laboratory 12, a solo exhibition of work by the gallery’s first ever design resident, part shoe maker, part inventor, Benjamin John Hall. The exhibition will showcase footwear and multi-media displays exploring current geopolitical issues and notions of espionage.

Hall’s starting point and continued focus of interest is the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. The title of this exhibition, Laboratory 12, one name for the KGB’s secret poison laboratory tasked with developing colourless, tasteless, odourless poisons. One such poison, Polonium – was identified as Litvinenko’s cause of death.

Through this collection of highly engineered footwear, Hall explores the extent to which governments potentially could or already are securing their best interests in a current global political and economic environment that is marked by uncertainty. Each of the seven pairs of shoes on display highlight a specific notion or concept unearthed through extensive research into documented tactics used by various security agencies worldwide. These range from subtle psychological warfare to concealed recording devices.

By interrogating the possibilities or – in some cases – the realities of how far governments are prepared to go to maintain the balance of powers by bending international law and manipulating the media to hide this from the public eye, Hall draws attention to the precariousness of contemporary world politics.

Hall collaborated closely with architect and material scientist Richard Beckett (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), wearable computing and tangible design researcher Nanda Khaorapapong (Queen Mary, University of London) and 3D print and CAD designer Martyn Carter (B-Made). The combination of the embedded technical capabilities and Hall’s experience in expertly designed footwear makes each pair of shoes on display fully functioning and fully wearable.

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