Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Maison Rouge

If you are in the mood to throw your mind and body into fits of paranoia, claustrophobia, instability and perhaps check your gag reflexes
while you are at it (no, this is not about some new designer drug),
head over to the Maison Rouge for a visit through German artist Gregor
Schneider's latest manipulations of space, and a small survey of Spanish artist Pilar Albarracin's,, videos of self-immolation and tests of physical endurance.

As he is known to do, Schneider has here taken up a white cube space and transformed it into a maze of passageways and various rooms that vary between all white with a harsh, dull lighting,cold temperatures, padded aluminium walls, cement spaces with wires and my favorite (now that i am out), the all black, ALL BLACK, space. All of these rooms, by the way, lock after you enter the space thereby giving only
one way out...(I know this for a fact because I tried).

I knew my threshold for small, dark spaces was not high but of course I signed
the release form and entered in alone, because I was alone and the
guard then said that the artist wants people to go in alone. After a
few questions like, "What if I freak out?" and "is it really, really
small in there?" I headed in and immediately said to myself as the door
slammed behind me, "Fuck. Why did I do this?" I quickly walked the first
long passageway and into the labyrinth. I just kept looking for the
door handle and moving forward without contemplation. I felt somewhere between Jennifer Garner in Alias after she has woken up from being drugged in some Eastern European country, and Alice in Wonderland coming down from the bad mushrooms. I thought i was out when i passed into the "cold and semi-dark space," and opened up into the all black space. Several four letter words coursed thru my system
but I knew this had to be the last room so I shuffled in clinging to
the wall which then I somehow left because I thought it would be clever to
start taking pictures for the flash to give me some light--so i ended up
on the far side and realized that this was neither the door out and now
I was more blinded from the flash of light. Somehow i got back to the
entrance door and into the cold room, now attempting to go back the way
I came. I got into one room because another visitor was entering. I
told her I couldn't deal and was getting out, she didn't know whether I
was crazy or follow me. Of course I couldn't go any further because the
rooms were locked going back so I re-entered and asked the girl if we
can do this together..she of course didn't have the paranoia attack that I did and we shuffled along the walls perimeter till we saw the outline of the exit door. phew. I just re-lived it again.

Moving onto Pilar Alabarracin's exhibition, one which I was curious to see because I was always so drawn to her images in magazines and books. I didn't realize the
hard-core, physical element to her work. The first film titled "Lunares," shows the artist dressed as a Spanish flamenco dancer in an all white dress. She takes out a needle with which she begins pricking herself until blood seeps thru the "membrane" of the dress and leaves a silver dollar sized polka-dot. Ouch. The other videos are perhaps a little less gore but none-the-less powerful evocations of early feminist performance with a visual association to the folkloric traditions of Southern Spain. The work is very strong and I do recommend both installations, but now you know.

1 comment:

AlBahr said...

That sounded like a great time, nothing like art that interacts with your sense of fear.