31.3.14

Chantal Grech: Observations of an itinerant viewer: day 4 and 6 of Sue Healey's interventions


Four white boards, rectangular and upright mark the space along the wall like a metronome marks time. At the end of the narrow vista three more boards hang in front of shallow stairs bouncing the space back onto itself. Now blank, they are the split ground on which grainy ephemeral images of figures have passed, projected. A diaphanous pink sleeve is slipped over one of the boards extending its form to the ceiling. In the darkness below the staircase an   scallop of white threads encloses a triangular space to end in a series of curved gestures against a brown brick wall. Fragile in composition though not in overall size they speak of the hand and of time. A pendulum-like pencil drawing sits on the white wall in the first bay. These are the givens, gestures left as beginnings. The space appears passive.

Day 4
Three large black monitors sit against a white brick wall in the first bay opposite the pendulum like drawing. A woman and two men walk the length of a precipitous wall, the same wall, at different times. They are seen in profile against a clear blue sky, simultaneously on the adjacent monitors. It is an experiment; the conditions are the same for each, the difference lies in their response to the task of walking the wall. The woman strides, almost defiantly as the edge of her skirt kicks up and gives way to the forward movement of her leg. Something external, of which we know nothing, motivates her. One of the men, in contrast, walks more slowly with a steady step, the camera shows us his face and a curious smile. He is bemused. Later we learn that he is afraid of heights. The third man is confident, assured, internally driven. The energy that flows comes from the apparent density of his body, the certainty of his place on the wall.

The time involved: the time between the individual walks, the time from the filming to the watching, the simultaneity of watching three past events, now, not to mention Bergson's dureé - the unmeasureable time of individual experience, and finally, imagined time. Multiple times. To the astronomer space and time are knitted together - one dependant on the other.

In the space under the stairs the two-dimensional plane is challenged when the projection of a man turning and slowly 'spinning', is partially caught by the scalloped threads before being released to the wall behind. The projection is small, the size of a hand. It's scale suggests distance but at the same time, like a miniature, it enters the imagination defying scale. Beneath the stairs the dancer is a microcosm, on the opposite wall he enters the scale of the real but his movements and the whiteness within which he revolves place him within a limitless space where his naked body turns within a gold latticed coat that in turn orbits his body as he revolves across the wall like a passing planet, giving the surrounding whiteness an added depth in which the wall attains another state, another kind of representation where the perceived flips into an imagined limitless space.

Day 6:
In the first bay, between the pendulum and a white board, a dancer turns, projected, caught between acts, between two moments – the remaining gestures of previous artists – in this moment present and past exist together. The same dancer turns the same turn in the second bay and under the stairs like a repeated beat, and each time the movement is the same but the site is different and in that difference lies a constellation of possibilities.

The gold latticed gown within which the dancer dances, itself composed more of empty spaces than of material becomes manifestly present at the end of the space as it hugs the shallow steps, drawing the eye back to solid ground, back to now.

The four small monitors find their place at the front of the gallery, face up in a gentle curve, the suggestion of a path, a continuity that points to the staircase, that begins below the empty pink sleeve hanging above them. The three large monitors now sit at the back of the gallery, behind the hanging panels, waiting.

The works engage the periphery and were it not for the solid substance of the black monitors, the projections and emanations together with the physically light objects might be absorbed by the walls leaving the intervening central space to take on a particular presence, a response of its own.

Perhaps the space awaits the presence of the body, of the dancer.

Chantal Grech  April 5/14
http://chantalmgrech.com

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