Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Art for social impact

Gormley on the roof
Originally uploaded by amsterboy
I got back from Morocco on Saturday evening a half an hour before midnight having plane once again delayed when departing from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. That airport and me – not a match made in aviation heaven. Well anyway, my stay in the Netherlands was extraordinarily short as I left on Sunday morning to London for a British Council conference on higher education. Currently I am in Helsinki for seeing some people for work and seeing how theoneminutesjr workshop is running.

On Sunday – although somewhat exhausted – I decided to make some room in my agenda for high culture. A friend of mine had recommended the Antony Gormley exhibition in Hayward Gallery so I made my way through Central London, crossed the Thames and walked to the South Bank. Even with some waiting outside in line, Gormley’s exhibition was definitely the right move for the day.

Gormley works with extremely heavy sculptures mostly somehow using his own body as the subject mostly using lead as his material. His clever invention was not to limit himself into the gallery but scatter his works on the rooftops of London. I love the idea. When one stands on the terrace of the gallery, one can easily spot some 20 iron men standing on rooftops. I love this kind of project which question where art belongs and makes art accessible for greater numbers of people. In the gallery I witnessed a father and daughter engaged in a dialogue:
”Oh, daddy, there’s one!”
”Sweety, let’s see how many we can spot.”

The major revelation in the Blind Light exhibition was the work actually named Blind Light which is basically a big cloud-filled glass box with fluorescent white light. The effect is extraordinary. One enters the box and within 20 seconds you lose all sense of orientation. It is wet and cold inside, you don’t know where the entrance was and you see people appearing and disappearing. Of course a rational person knows that by following the walls you end up to the entrance but I must confess that the room puts the thought into your head: what if I just don’t find my way out?

With the glass box Gormley poses an interesting question – what is natural and what is unnatural? By taking the natural and uncertain inside and forcing people to be observed by others from the outside, he manages to question some of our notions of reality. As he writes in the booklet:”Architecture is supposed to be the location of security and certainty about where you are. It is supposed to protect you from the weather, from darkness, from uncertainty. Blind Light undermines all that.”

If in London before 19 August, I highly recommend Blind Light.

1 comment:

Aija said...

Hei, soittaisitko mulle nyt kun oot Hesassa. Asiaa. Mulla ei ole nyt sun yhteystietoja.