25th April 2009 — 9th January 2010
“The Beauty and The Beast"
It's a sunny Saturday afternoon and I am visiting Corinne Felgate's latest exhibition. 21 floors up, along the walkway and we reach Flat 123 - neighboured by the usual bland domestic interiors of such housing, interspersed with colour from a nearby trellis laden with artificial faded flowers which appear to have just been ironed.
We reach a grey metal door, enchantingly enter the space down the stairs and are hit by the pungent smell of “Home Sweet Home", with the same overbearing gut-wrench as greasy donut fat along Southend promenade. I am speaking of the pivotal work here, a kitchen floor covered with melted red strawberry jelly whose gloopiness and translucent beauty heightens its bloodied connotations. We are treated to a further three spaces of domestic un-bliss. Get your head out the kitchen fire and turn around and enter the orange room. “Better Luck Next Time" consists of a goldfish in a plastic container, swimming aimlessly, hung on a rope pulley. The next time I visit the exhibition to conduct a discussion of the works, Mr Goldfish ( known as Ernie in hommage to Mr Goldfinger) will be more than just a whiter shade of pale. Death surely becomes him. Mrs Beaton would have something to say about the adjoing room – a wash basin erupting foam, “Dull as Dishwater". The living room features furniture from Erno's originial habitual abode, Seventies swivel plastic chairs competing with floral cushion and equally flower power wallpaper, just a one strip echo left in a room of monochromatic Playschool shades. Lest we forget the balcony and who could with the pull of a view which encapsulates the whole of London; central and periphery. The final piece is “AirMail", dozens of paper aeroplanes catapulted off the edge, birds of prey with the same abysmal fate as the Wily Coyote falling off the side of a rockied mount with the infamous puff of smoke. Their free flight of fancy coming to land on who knows what part of the surrounding - troubadours of day-tripping with a one-way ticket to ride.
Gaston Bachelard's seminal work, "Poetics of Space" (1958) speaks of how our surroundings affect our perceptions and experiences. Seeking to connect people with the latent spirituality of an environment, highlighting certain behavioural idiosyncrasies and addressing the poetics of a space can be challenging at the best of times. Corinne Felgate's interaction with Erno Goldfinger's most iconic Balfron Tower compels the viewer in the first instance by presenting them with brutal and unrelenting environment, and in the second, by the ways in which objects are placed in order to subvert the supposed domestic comfort of an apartment. She thus creates a heightened spirituality, as per with Peggy Phelan's opening address to Tate Modern's Live Culture conference in 2003, that (performance art) “has developed from three points: theatre, painting and a return to shamanism." Corinne's performative sculptural installations both compel and repel. On one level there is a childish sweetness, the saccharine smell of the strawberry jelly, the new-best friend as the goldfish in the bag and the playfulness of a paper aeroplane, and on the other, metaphors of blood (jelly), claustrophobia and alienation (goldfish) and vertigo (paper aeroplanes). The flat acts as the perfect catalyst for Corinne to load the environment with signifiers of psychological unease with much of the art acting as a suggestion of action - some pre-meditated and spontaneous death. Corrine's installation perfectly extends theorist Slavoj Zizek's descripition of the apartment as being “one of those hellish places which abound in David Lynch's films, places where all moral and social inhibitions seem to be suspended, where everything is possible. The lowest masochistic sex, obscenities, the deepest level of our desires tt we are not even ready to admit to ourselves, we are confronted with them in such places"
Balfron Tower Heritage Flat
123 Balfron Tower
St Leonard's Road
London E14 0QT
Saturday & Sunday, 12-4pm
Monday-Friday, by appointment only