‘A Love Letter To The Building’ - Cerith Wyn Evans at De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill.
I don’t often get much time to myself these days, majority of the time I spend talking to people, or meeting with people, or even being around people, so solitude is welcome. Naturally I’ve always been a solitary person, and this has translated to the way I experience art, as I always love to go to something on my own first, before sharing it with others. There’s something to be said about not talking about things first, and just experiencing it on a base level, and then sharing your experiences and analyses with others. Last week I visited De La Warr Pavillion, a deceptively beautiful building; the exterior reminds me of a 1960s swimming and leisure complex, so stepping into a bright, open and peaceful interior was wonderful. Cerith Wyn Evans has always been known as an artist that uses language as an experience, rather than a narration of an experience, and allows architectural elements to act as a reference. This exhibition was specially created with the building in mind, a consideration crucial to Evan’s work, his ‘love letter to the building’.
(Please note: I have THE WORST camera when it comes to light, bright room, I don’t know why but I really hope you can see what I mean if I upload them.)
This neon installation is in Gallery 1, and I really wish I’d visited as the sun was dimming, rather than at noon, as you could barely make out the text at first. It’s made in reverse and therefore you can only read it fluently in the reflection of the window behind it, it’s also a massive structure, measuring at thirteen metres long. The text is taken from Guy Debord’s book In Girium Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni: A Film, a constant source of reference for Wyn Evan’s neon installations, and reads:
‘Permit yourself to drift from what you are reading at the very moment into another situation. Imagine a situation that in all likelihood you’ve never been.’
The wonderful thing is that this text, that immediates experience rather than narrating it in hindsight, aligns perfectly with the horizon and the English Channel, creating a harmony between the two that is breathtaking. There is a fantastic combination of natural and man made light, something that Wyn Evans uses almost constantly, perhaps to suggest a relationship between man and nature that divides and unites their abilities accordingly.
Also in Gallery 1 is Untitled (Flute Piece Incarnation De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill), that consists of seven glass tubes that are attached to a series of transparent tubes, and play abstract, ephemeral music that allows a further consideration of the architectural elements of the space. The transparency of the piece makes it invisible at first, and I’ll have to admit that when I first entered the gallery I had NO idea what was making the sound. I haven’t come across any of Wyn Evan’s works that use sounds before, so it was great to see how it worked in consideration to architecture.
In Gallery 2 is Evan’s S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E (‘Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive’s overspill…’). The gallery space itself is odd, as you enter from the staircase you don’t see the true height of the ceiling within as there is a lip of plaster concealing it as you approach the entrance. When you enter, these columns are enormous, and as transparently industrial as they are, they are really rather beautiful. The fierceness of the two element, light and heat, is an overwhelmingly calming experience. As mentioned in the exhibition literature, Wyn Evan’s related the pattern of the columns to human breathing, each lighting up and dying quietly, almost betraying the intensity of the columns output. They are transparent, revealing the guts of the columns, which suggests fragility that suggests another relationship between man made structures and the human body, each a blazing heat, ephemeral structures.
(It was quite interesting to see people attempting to touch them, wondering whether they were as brilliantly hot as their light suggested. In the left corner of the second picture, a man took his chances, and smiled widely when he wasn’t horribly burnt.)
‘And if I don’t meet you no more in this world,
Then I’ll, I’ll meet you in the next one
And don’t be late, don’t be late.’
I’ve seen several pictures of Cerith Wyn Evan’s firework installations, and I really regret not attending this opening of this exhibition as that was when it was lit, and momentarily came to life. What remains is the remnants of a moment, of an experience, which is almost as powerful as the moment itself. You can see all of the blemishes of the night among the nuts and bolts, and directional stickers. I remember as a child going to the same field after Fireworks night and looking at structures that held Catherine wheels, and feeling happy in remembrance. However with this I never actually saw this, so it is like someone else telling you the story and creating an understanding of it. Wyn Evan’s work with language is astounding, and as illustrated in the exhibition literature, the work ‘directly addresses the glitches and failures in transmission of meaning through language.’ Rooted in the ephemeral, this particular love letter attracts a wealth of sentiment, and experiencing the ghost is just as wonderful.
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