Monday, July 22, 2013

BEAUTY: Installation--Romain Crelier

The Abbey-church of Bellelay in Switzerland is the site of Romain Crelier's site-specific installation entitled La Mise en Abîme. Very shallow containers shaped like puddles hold pools of used motor oil but end up becoming obsidian mirrors which reflect the Abbey's magnificent architecture as well as any visitors, thus doubling and redefining the space. It creates an eerie looking glass effect that gives the illusion of depth--a second Abbey hovers in another dimension--where there is none. And finally, there is the exquisite play and tension between the pristine white abbey and the inky black oil.

Romain Crelier's piece reminds me so very much of 20:50, a piece by Richard Wilson which I saw at the Saatchi on the Thames many years ago.
From the Saatchi website:
Richard Wilson’s 20:50 is truly a contemporary masterpiece. The work is the only permanent installation at the Saatchi Gallery and has been continuously shown in each of the gallery’s venues since 1991. Currently on display in Gallery 13 – a room custom built for the piece – 20:50 transforms the gallery into a site of epic illusion.

Viewed from the entrance platform 20:50 appears as a holographic field: simultaneously a polished floor, infinite clear pool, an expansive and indefinable virtual space that clinically absorbs and mirrors the gallery architecture. The room is in fact entirely flooded in oil.

Visitors are invited to examine the piece close-up via a walkway that extends into the lake, placing the viewer, waist deep, at the centre of a perfect mathematically symmetrical scope. Through this altered perspective 20:50’s phantasmical aura is enhanced, amplifying the disorientating and mesmerising experience of the space, and further confounding physical logic.

20:50 takes its name from the type of recycled engine oil used. It is thick, pitch black, and absolutely indelible: please take extreme care with your clothing and belongings, and no matter how tempting, please do not touch. 20:50 often has to be demonstrated to be believed: the liquid can be seen by blowing very gently on the surface.


Mow said...

Living in London, 20:50 is a piece I've enjoyed several times, not just for myself but also taking visiting friends to view.

For myself, what I find so incredible about the piece is if you go all the way into the well, the displacement of all your reality based visual cues disappear. I feel astoundingly disembodied and takes a good shake of the head to bring me back to this world.

Jeff said...

Hi Mow! Nice to hear from you!

Oh how I envy you living so close to the Saatchi! I would love to be able to see 20:50 in its current space, the one built especially to house it. When I saw it at the old space at the County Hall, it was in that room with the wood paneling and fireplace... what an amazing cognitive shift it forced, being able to only see the top half of the fireplace, and the top half of the windows, etc. It took me a while to process what might be occupying the space (I wanted to encounter it before I read the label)... I know exactly what you mean when you speak of feeling disembodied. Amazing work of art...