Mirror at Museum of Installation, London (1997)

R.J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in World Sculpture News, 4(1), pages 51-2 in 1998.

Mirror at Museum of Installation

The recent exhibition, under the title Mirror, offered six installations that approached the “concept of the mirror metaphor as the point of inception to investigate a series of prepositions about recognition and representation within contemporary installation practice.” The show featured new works by Jo Bennett, Stav Balla, Verdi Yahooda, Amanda Wilson, Beth Derbyshire and Louise Tebbs.

On entering the exhibitions space Jo Bennett’s Cortex (1997) restricted direct access by its translucent and curved perspex shields which physically separated and defined the space. Behind Cortex, Stav Balla positioned sprinter’s hurdles in the work En-tout-cas (1997). In two connecting rooms, Verdi Yahooda showed an interest in texture with Verso (1997) and Recto (1997), which used her rubbings from the gallery’s rough, unfinished walls as a means of visually connecting the two rooms and creating a mirror image.

In the basement space of the Museum of Installation, three installations presented detached experiences. Beth Derbyshire’s Soundpiece (1997) consisted of two speakers and four chairs in a dimly lit room. From the speakers a computer manipulated sound piece played consisting of the artist’s voice creating four conversations, each describing an image. The piece, using distorted intonation contours and eliminating abbreviated speech, made the text difficult to understand and required close concentration, the result was hypnotic and solitary in the space.

In a rectangular and contemplative space, Amanda Wilson showed a construction of identity in His Eyes Are Brown…(1997) with a rectangular contemplative space which investigated individuality and family links. Walking into the space on the left, in a quasi-religious procession, three box-like voids were positioned at knee level, with symbols of her son’s maternal grandfather, grandmother, and mother leading to an exposed light bulb with identification prints of her son. On leaving, the paternal equivalent is on the opposite side. For each box, Wilson includes an envelope with the name, date of birth, and a personal history (family, history, personality traits, attitudes, values, beliefs, health and habits) of each of the subjects. Lit with frosted light bulbs, the boxes also include identification prints on acetate.

In an awkward space with a 12-inch opening, Louise Tebbs’ two video projections showed mirrored versions in It’s the Not Knowing That Gets Them (1997). In the first piece, in the foreground, she shows people unaware that they are under surveillance at a station; in the background the video sequence is played in reverse. Between the two, a dramatic curtain is tied back to expose the other dimension.