Stephen Cooper, Bernice Donszelmann, Vanessa Jackson, Mary Maclean, Jo McGonigal, Tim Renshaw, Helen Robertson
The Winchester Gallery
A theatre auditorium reflects on an eye. Ledoux shows the auditorium with sun streaming in from the building’s apex to its lower depths. The space is literally brought to light. The eye might belong to an actor who looks out from the stage or a spectator looking at a stage that is designed to look like an auditorium. Ledoux’s engraving is open to both interpretations. Whether the eye belongs to an actor or to a spectator, both are enclosed in the space of an architectural theatre. It is an architecture of illusion and illumination where building, actor and spectator are all entangled together. ‘Theatre’ might be understood via its discipline-specific components (staging, drama, spectacle and spectator) or through Michael Fried’s mobilization of the term – theatricality and anti-theatre emerges with Fried as a more generalized condition of aesthetics and describes contrasting forms of the beholder’s experience. Ledoux’s engraving participates in both. Participating in the conditions of theatre marks a passage into a space that is charged with meaning and where even the flimsiest of props or sketchiest of backdrops take on heightened significance to structure a drama.
Might such theatrical conditions of architecture be approached as extending potentially into all socially constructed spaces? Through daily habit, necessity and familiarity architecture recedes into the background to become an almost invisible backdrop but these theatrical structures – spectacle, lines of sight, delimitation of dramatic interaction, the narrative weaving of space – maintain their efficacy.
The selected artists in the exhibition have architecture as their subject matter and they activate this through engagement with the gallery space itself. As well as echoing existing structures in the gallery such as doors, walls and windows these works tease out less tangible structures. This includes a crisscrossing of gazes induced by flickering in the wings, partitions that channel movement flow, wall design that looks back and hollow centres that lure vision. In different ways these artists work to reanimate space by giving attention to the different forces that structure a space.
Organised with Stephen Cooper