A Voyage to Nantes: Optical Theatres – Pierrick Sorin at Hanger 32
Optical Theatres is one of a number of exhibitions along the river island situated at the centre of the quiet French city of Nantes, currently hosting A Voyage to Nantes, an urban art tour.
The works on display here consist of miniature rooms viewed through gaps in large boxlike structures. Scenes are played out within these sets through a form of holographic projection whose exact mechanism escaped me. Unlike some installations which rely on technological spectacle to the detriment of the work’s content, these constructions make use of the ghostly quality of holograms to haunting, low key effect.
The diminutive digitised figures in this first tableau feature a figure clownishly applying copious amounts of paint to a plinth which proceed to drip down its face, collectively forming a crude imitation of Daniel Buren’s ubiquitous stripes which have become the French artist’s trademark. This is played against a miniaturised view of the gallery’s surroundings; Daniel Buren’s permanent installation Les Anneaux, a series of circular lights which in typical Buren fashion are uniformly held out alongside the sheer stone face of the island’s port, alternately glowing red, green and blue above the night time river. While this installation echoes the physical form of the island, the first piece of Pierrick Sorin’s show rebounds off Buren’s intervention more conceptually, by irreverently playing tribute to his position as one of France’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.
Moving deeper into the dimly lit core of the gallery, one is met by decidedly darker scenes, reminiscent of the gloomy macabre of the artist Edward Kienholz. Still and silent plastic dolls make multiple appearances, matching the scale of the holographic denizens of these domestic interiors. The figures play out a dialogue in hysterical fashion; a crudely cross-dressed figure appears to chastise her husband as he sits pensively alongside the hourglass silhouette of a dead-eyed Barbie figurine. A final display features a life-sized cabinet in which viewers can see themselves reflected from within.
This small exhibition in the artist’s home town exceeds its own technological novelty factor and provides a view into the simultaneously comic, hysterical and ghostly practice of the irrepressible Pierrick Sorin.
The exhibition runs until 19th August 2012.