Hirkai Sawa, Hako

Artvehicle 23/Review

5th September 2007 — 14th October 2007

A series of six projection screens, arranged at acute and obtuse angles, demarcate the exhibition space at Chisenhale Gallery. When I entered the space, all six screens showed what appeared to be a close up of wallpaper; the sort one might expect to appear in the hallway of a house owned by an elderly lady without television and thereby blessed with an ignorance towards current interior design fads. This moment of inoffensive washed out grey with a subtly chintzy Fleur-de-Lys pattern recurs periodically throughout the projection sequence and provides respite from the peculiar and extraordinary visual ensembles that both pre and proceed.

Birds drift over a crashing sea. The movement of both is slowed to such a pace that it is possible to get lost in deciphering whether you are watching actual time, time lapse footage, slow motion, or the tiniest of looped sequences. Your perspective is dependent on which bird you watch, how long you linger with him and how long you can suspend your belief in an environment mediated by subtle digital animation.

Perspective and perception is challenged equally by the piece's soundtrack. A lulling rumble, close to the artificially fabricated 'mmmmm' that was the foundation sound for Bruce Nauman's Raw Material's at Tate Modern, occupies the space. Placed over this sound is the hardworking ticking of a small and precisely tuned clock. The sounds of birds and water crashing are denied their place, refusing the viewer the opportunity to locate and qualify the visual details they see in relation to an aural experience. Similarly, the fireworks on another screen explode silently above a dramatic craggy bay.

A nuclear powerstation, the grounds of a Shinto monastery and rivers running through rooms provide other visual material.

The room's projections are compelling in their ability to evoke the miniature proportions of a toy doll's house, with one's oversized leg caught between the projector and the screen only reinforcing this dwarfing effect. It is the evocation of the image of the doll's house that provides the hinge to this exhibition. The exhibition literature states Sawa's interest in box garden therapies, whereby patients are asked to fill empty wooden boxes with miniature objects which have been selected by doctors for their symbolic meaning. Once arranged, the doctor analyses the placement of these objects to reveal the unconscious processes of the patient. In this exhibition the viewer is asked to trip between fantasy and reality to try to grasp the unconscious processes of the artist as the constructor of miniature visual situations. In so doing, one would expect to reveal something about the unconscious processes of the viewer.


Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
London E3 5QZ

Wednesday-Sunday, 1pm-6pm

Hirkai Sawa, Hako —