Friday, February 22, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

An artist takes a narrative and often turns the verbal or written material and reinterprets the information into a visual, object based material or intervention. The dangers of these methods are that without the back story an artists work can seem unreadable, the gap between the story and the art work that inhabits the space can be vast. This is exactly the problem when viewing Hague Yang’s latest installation at the Cubitt gallery, Yang has created an installation inspired by the murder of German Green party founder and activist Petra Kelly, without the knowledge of details of Kelly’s death we can only guess at the tortuous and twisted concepts that created the design of Yang’s installation and we are left with many unanswered questions. This in fact echoes those questions left behind or unanswered in the investigations behind Petra Kelly’s murder, we ask ourselves whether this seems to be the artists intention. In the ensuing dialogue between viewer and artwork we question our abilities to decipher the signals and visual messages being laid out before us, perhaps Yang has skilfully reinterpreted those unanswered questions of the investigation into the sculptural forms we see before us now.
Mirrors reflect piercing and changing intensity of light beams obscured by a construction of many venetian blinds that mask the gently blowing fans of scent machines, we pace around the installation looking for clues as to what is hidden, by which and for what reason. Yang’s installation plays with familiar materials and objects and engages many senses but seems at the same time distant and abstract. It is a ghostly environment ready to reveal its secrets only to shroud them in obscurity once more, we search for the clues and wait for the story to unfold only to step once again into the obscured.

Seemingly somewhere between the public and private life of Petra Kelly is the truth behind her death and similarly somewhere between the story of Petra Kelly and Haegue Yang’s installation that has been inspired by Kelly’s life and death is a well conceived and executed art work. It remains a clever but frustrating series of smoke and mirrors.


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