Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern
Often, even if you’re invited to interact with a piece of art, you won’t. Art is usually a matter of not crossing a bit of wire at ankle height, and affecting a pose of disinterested knowledge as if you’ve spent years in art college and can, from your detached point of reference, draw out all the many minutiae of the artist’s hidden message.
The exhibition at Blain Southern doesn’t let you do that – instead it throws you right into the art. You cannot escape being a small part of the whole, even if you’re attempting to look for an ankle-high wire to stand behind or hide mutely in a corner. A big multi-segmented breezeblock wall divides the room into chunks. It’s incomplete and gives the slight feeling of walking through a ruin: the whole room is one big piece of vaguely abstract industrial sculpture.
Leads II is a real-time science experiment turned exhibit. Pools of copper sulphate and hydrochloric acid inside crumpled lead containers begin to crystallise on a copper braid suspended from the ceiling. To most people it will look like an odd sculpture featuring coloured water in strange metal containers and submerged bits of pipe. Not necessarily so bad – it’s interesting – but drawn out chemical reactions don’t usually translate well without explanation.
At one end of the room microphones hang from the ceiling; they are all switched on and hooked up to speakers. Anyone is free to speak, scream or make some kind of noise. Very bright lights glare from different places. The microphone input is filtered through a highly volatile echo effect and then played back to the room – the speakers will suddenly burst into a jarring audio discharge. For as long as sound remains, the scene takes on a slightly more sinister tone.
The exhibition is fairly ambitious, but it’s pulled off very well. It’s interesting being thrust into the centre of the exhibition itself, and it doesn’t do it in a way that feels forced or unnatural. Although some of the more elaborate experimental processes in a few of the exhibits remain unexplained or are simply too muted and slow to make an immediate impact, everything on show is eye-catching. Exhibitions with an uncompromising disregard for boundaries like this are few and far between. This one is worth a look.
Photos: Sarah Louise Renwick
Gilberto Zorio is at Blain Southern until 28th September 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.