20th January 2010 — 26th February 2010
Embrace The Hush
Laura Wilson is an artist who is fascinated by life's idiosyncrasies and aims to reveal a poetry in sculptural forms. Her recent solo show at Siobhan Davies, a dance studio and artist space in South London, saw various media come together. Laura presented blinds opening and closing, 2D works with coloured tape, and two heaters seemingly conversing with each other.
The gem of the exhibition was the opening night performance where audience members gazed into the urban abyss to a distant tower block (London College of Communication). Blinds open and close then open and stop and then start again. The effect is a hypnotic “flaneur-ing” of the cityscape. Bright city lights twinkle automated, existing in the night silence and chill alongside Laura's supposedly incidental, spontaneous yet highly orchestrated blind spectacular. For the piece's duration, the city is transformed into a theatre of our hopes, dream, fears, and longings. Our urban neurosis revealed alongside the breezy swaying of the blind. And as the audience gaze transfixed at the blinds we are reminded of our need for order and structure and synchronisation, yet one cannot predict if one doesn't have the score sheet what the next open or close will be. We can all but stand still in the night silence and gaze. Embrace the hush.
Tim Etchells, artist and writer, has observed the city. In Jen Harvie's Theatre and The City, 2009, he speaks of the city as “a model of dynamic relativism, a space where everything means more than one thing – a nondescript doorway, invisible for some, for others the gate a magical garden, a place of work, worship or otherwise… the city contains small beauties, zones of possibility.”
In amongst the frenetic everyday pace of modernity, the audience pauses to reflect in the hush of Wilson's work. Her use of everyday objects acts as a metaphor for everyday existence, furthering this need for the audience to be able to identify with her art. The two heaters performing I Quite a StrangerAren't You may be within striking distance of each other, but fail to connect and embrace each other. A possible reflection of how relationships in modernity operate. Do we really know who are neighbours are or the worker sharing our office desk? The heaters move around the space. They are two brothers fighting or a married couple arguing. Their non-connection is ultimately melancholic. Yet we gaze at them, trying to work out their next move. It is this tension of knowing and not knowing that can make Wilson's work so arresting.
The magic in Wilson's work is when we as an audience are engaged in a live process, experiencing the work at time of execution. For the artist it is knowing when to stop to allow the audience to begin to extract a poetry in the work that she presents. Similar to her performance, Wilson presents a video Blind Building consisting of blinds opening and closing over a classical music soundtrack. As beautiful and seductive as a Rut Blees Luxemburg print of city tower blocks in the night, in terms of composition and colour tones, the real magic for me is the music free performance, just standing outside, alone with my thoughts, watching this performance where the whole of London is my stage. The effect conjured up the opening of Walt Disney's 1955 animated triumph Fantasia where colour and music collide and the viewer is free to delve into the facets of his fantastical imagination. The city is the theatre. The soundtrack need not be written. It is there all around us. The hush is the soundtrack.
Siobhan Davies Dance Studio
85 St George's Road
London SE1 6ER