Appearance of a Balloon Installation

Balloon Installation has an interesting story behind its appearance. Shortly after dismantling Red Room/Not A Red Room/The Red there was a participatory event held in Herrick Gallery by Maria Teresa Gavazzi. On the 14-th of February, a gallery was full of people and balloons hugging each other. Each of us was allowed to take one balloon home. I had a wonderful journey with mine, - and, as follows, fallen in love with him.

Next day, I was meant to take my Staircase installation residing at Chisenhale staircase down. Well, I am greatly enjoying building my installations and watching them grow, however, destroying them, especially those who stays in a certain space for a long time as Staircase did, always make me feel sad as there is nothing left behind after the deconstruction. So, to cheer myself up I thought to suspend my balloon down the staircase atrium. The balloon was of a nice round shape and white colour. Surprisingly, it happened to be just perfect.

The story also alludes to our artist advisory committee meeting at Chisenhale studios, where at the moment of writing this commentary I have a studio space. In spite of the obvious success of the Staircase installation, a meeting did not want to approve my suggestion for making our staircase atrium an experimental non-format gallery space for site-specific installations open to proposals from the artist outside of the studio block. One of the reasons was that this challenging space is difficult to maintain and curate. Whatever the notion of curating means, in supporting of my idea I told: 'It can be as simple as a hanging balloon!' Ans so it was. The meeting happened on the 14-th of February, half an hour before my visit to Herrick Gallery.

With thanks to Herrick Gallery and Chisenhale Art Place.

RED ROOM / NOT A RED ROOM / THE RED : Herrick Gallery : Jan/Feb 2014

As long as each of my installations is developing in a process of a construction and idea is being shaped during the process of inhabiting a site, it means that a work itself is a living and breathable organism and as a consequence a subject to be changed and developed over the duration of the exhibition. 

Therefore, Red Room introduces a new dimension to my art practice and by being rebuild into Not A Red Room and The Red, -  installation is going to have a new appearance and a meaning each time where its third reincarnation will exist for one day only, which will be the exhibition closing day.    

[Space-analysis] : it is a little three-grey-walls and one wall-size window space. With a white ceiling and floor. One wall is made of bricks. There is a wide low plinth adjoining the window. For long strip lights form a square on the ceiling. Window is huge – all other volumes are tiny. Window dissolves the borders between inside and outside, expanding a tiny space towards infinity. However, three out of six window-frames are sprayed with translucent frost paint. There is a clear unfrosted area – a path from one 'door' to the other. This space is domesticated: there is a private living area behind and beneath the gallery. Immediacy of the space is provided by a condition of absence of interim space. As long as a door is open, you are inside the gallery space. Main and One. There is a great deal of charm in this mix between the absence of the context and a high level of the presence of the same context at the same time. The space is definitely not neutral and and possesses a strong character.
A continuity of inside-outside relationships are transformed into the installation itself.

THE RED : Installation III

THE RED : Statement III

The Red - is a pure space through which you move measuring all your perceptions via sensual experience of red colour and diagonally inclined linear geometry of this colour distributor - four feet red fluorescent and LED tubes wrapped in seven various red-shades film gels that all together give a vision of a pure bright red without any additives.

Pure, or solid RED, with no other colours added.

Red is the colour of the most ripe strawberries.

NOT A RED ROOM : Installation II

NOT A RED ROOM : Statement II

As it logically follows from a title, Not A Red Room is acting as an opposition to Red Room. The salt is removed from a bath as a container, - and a bath as an allusion to a tiny coffin or a boat that brings departed into the other side of a river is itself removed too.

However, in a biblical connotation salt is a meaning of life. In Red Room life was sustained by an array of my childhood experiences in manipulating negatives contained my own imagery in a bath-room that at a time was used in a role of a dark-room.

Within a space of Not A Red Room salt is placed in bin-bags. Hence, it means that life is thrown into the waste piles. This action signifies an ironical comment: Life has no meaning, it is nothing and so it does not really matter how you live and what you do. 'It all will be ended up equally', - says Not A Red Room sending you straight back into Red Room and somewhere just above and beyond it.

RED ROOM : Installation I

In this installation salt signifies a metaphysical matter that is absent and present at the same time [several of my previous installations were built out of monofilament lines that material-wise are present and absent, void and constructed space at the same time]. Although, salt refers to the death however it means a temporality of human life rather than a direct action of killing someone. Moreover, salt is an important component of preserving food and our bodies. So, salt gives life. So, salt refers to life. By using salt I want to attract attention to a transitional stage in-between the worlds, the border of which is nearly invisible and difficult to accept or explain. In creating this work [as a majority of my works before] I am trying to understand a fundamental meaning of human existence [whether it's actually real or not] why it is all for and what it is all about.

The bath itself is something that meets new life and say its farewell to the departed - that is the process of being washed. Whenever you take a bath [ie being washed] you are diving into a transitional period of purification and re-thinking. Being washed with water is quite different from being washed with salt. In one of my previous work the substances to be washed with was ashes mixed with dirt and paper.
I do work a lot with illusions and disorienting environments. A huge window at Herrick Gallery smoothly transfers inside into the outside as if expanding the gallery space into the streets. You can see a reflection of the bath that moves away as a ghost or some kind of a transcendental boat travelling to the other worlds... It's just travels over the salt rather than over the water. I am saying that everything is an illusion, your own constructed reality, the way you want it to be and imagine. Nothing has borders. And to prove that a window at Herrick Gallery opens itself up towards the city bringing the whole exhibition into the streets, dissolving it there. Mixing up with people, buildings, traffic lights, neon signs, rain...  It all deals with remembrance.

Furthermore, salt melts in a way that reminds me of snow that used to be a huge part of my childhood, the same as a bathroom with red light where I was manipulating with my own images under the guidelines of my father. Here comes a layer where we deal with memory. Those images were drying out lying on a newspaper or or hanging from strings. There was a whole process of photographic obsession. Though, by profession my father is an engineer and a professor at the university who was strongly against me becoming an artist. However ironically by being keen on photography and painting he introduced me to art. He used to take  loads of pictures of me and printed them with me, he used to buy art books and make sure I read them. He still buys books on paintings and make photographs only now of landscapes. Anyway... these formative years of my childhood constitute a memory aspect of Red Room and go further towards a universal memory or each single memory of each single individual visiting a gallery.

However, the way anyone's memory will be triggered by the work is unknown as visitors normally are unaware of mine. I do it deliberately as I am interested in collecting visitors reactions and their versions of work rather than delivering them my own interpretation. This collection of constructed narratives by different visitors is important to my art practice and further expands an artwork. Basically, I create immersive environments that expect a visitor to be dissolved in them experiencing with all senses rather than merely looking into something. And I am hunting for this experience to be bounced back to me in whatever controversial or provocative way it will be delivered.
In my childhood, the process of making photographs was happening inside a bathroom simply because it was the only one room in a flat with running water that simultaneously allowed to switch off the light [ie to be converted into the 'dark-room'] to make the process of manipulating with images happen. The red light that was a reason for me to call it literally red room - was a round lantern with a red filter inside. It was used because it allows to see inside the darkness while not making any damage to negatives and not fixed photo paper. But I was not aware of all the technical details as a kid - it was all one mysterious and fascinating red room experience.
Each tube at Red Room has different filter colour and tubes beneath those filters are different as well being divided on red fluorescent and white LED tubes that contribute to different red filed distribution into the atmosphere or space. Consequently, inside the gallery space each single tube is perceived by human eye individually resulting in a colour-disorienting experience when one is not quite sure that it's actually red what he is experiencing. The longer a viewer stands in the space the more vivid the effect becomes. On the contrary, while being seen from the outside the gallery space via a window all the gradations of red are merged into one single bright red. Approximately, it works like one of the techniques at the impressionists painting when the optical mixture of colours occurred in the eye of the viewer.

At this stage precisely we come to a seduction. Seduction penetrates all two other layers of meaning of Red Room - there is a seduction of memory and seduction of remembrance, deeply there is a seduction of death, seduction of love, life and sexual desire. They are unavoidable components of our existence. Those red seductions tear us as humans apart making some of as create, some of as kill. They are fundamentals of all other human obsessions like an over-layer on a top of a pack of tracing papers.
Overall, to me and all my best intentions, Red Room is a quite complex work although very simple and straightforward. It is striving to provoke visitors reactions and ask questions rather than giving answers and explanations.