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Hanging Out in Dalston House: Marie Naffah

 

Being an art history undergraduate, I know it’s probably a crime to admit that I don’t always feel like heading into central London to rub shoulders with flustered mothers tripping over their tired children who are bored of Gauguin and have seen enough Rodin and are ready to queue the hour and a half for a mediocre sandwich and well-needed cup of coffee at the gallery café. Sometimes, I’m not so keen to stand on my tip toes and crane my neck over the overexcited school children that surround Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

 

And before you ask – no thank you, I wouldn’t like a headset.

 

Cynicism aside, obviously, with these mainstream exhibitions that have been so ruthlessly executed down to the colour of the walls, it is understandable that everybody wants to climb into such a treasure trove of gems. But sometimes it can prove a little too much, hence why I was delightfully humbled after stumbling upon Leandro Erlich’s encapsulating, three dimensional pop up installation of Dalston House recently commissioned by the Barbican.

 

Above: First photograph of the cast of ‘Buoy’

Modest in its exhibition space, the work occupied an understated lot on Ashwin Street, displaying a Victorian façade of a terraced house that has been created on the ground. Through the placement of mirrors, the façade had been reflected, replicating a lifelike upright representation of a house as we know it. It’s a photographer’s paradise, toying with the different angles as members of the public lie on the ground pretending to hang, fall, jump and climb from the various windows and doors. I found the atmosphere of this ‘hands on’ project so very uplifting, and although the free admission meant there was a queue, time flew by as you watched each individual bring their own imagination to Erlich’s innovation.

 

Above: Second photograph of the cast of ‘Buoy’

For those that have read my previous entries, you will be aware that a recurring theme and personal fascination of mine is art’s ability to involve the viewer. Erlich takes this concept to a whole new dimension as the boundary between the work and its viewer is not only blurred, but indeed, fully abolished as we interlock ourselves within the spectacle, a powerful development of a common 17th century characteristic of creating a new found role of the viewer (As discussed in my previous blog which you can read here.) The facade itself was executed from the foundations of a house that had been bombed during the Second World War, lending the artwork the capability of linking past and present, as the artist unites contemporary society and historical architecture.

 

Above: ‘Pip’ – Digital Photograph with poster edges filter

A definite exhibition highlight of my summer, Dalston House left me wanting more amusingly perceptive works from the artist, for those days where you just crave something a little different.

For more information on Leandro Erlich and where to see his work visit his website.

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