Diana Thater: Life Is a Time-Based Medium at Hauser & Wirth
Diana Thater’s latest exhibition, Life Is a Time-Based Medium, drew a bustling young crowd to Hauser and Wirth’s North Gallery on Saville Row for its opening night. Using projections of footage from Hindu pilgrimage site, Galtaji Temple in Jaipur, Thater attempts to lure visitors into an immersive experience within the gallery, depicting images that combine 18th century architecture with the many monkeys that inhabit the architectural surrounds of the temple.
Dividing the space of the gallery into two halves, Thater opens with an impressive display of the existing architecture of the temple with its domed ceilings and intricately painted walls. One can truly get a sense of the ornate structure of this palace through the film, presenting a glorious structure that is captivating as a place of worship.
Walking through the projection’s traditional curved archway to the second space, Thater has recreated an area of the temple inaccessible to humans and occupied by groups of monkeys who in turn form a seminal part of this display. A unique strand of the installation features Thater herself in an observer role, putting her perspective on the encounter between humans and animals to the fore.
The monkeys are wild in their rampant wandering of the temple, contrasting directly with the reverence shown by humans visiting for worship. Thater has been inspired by the Hindu god Hanuman who is often depicted in the form of a monkey and worshipped as a symbol of strength, perseverance and devotion. The scope of her installation aims to draw on the exploration of the potentially spiritual relationship between humans and animals.
With Thater’s renowned artistic talent for new media, the installation, although an interesting display of the contrasts between mankind and animals, overall feels slightly underwhelming. Several large walls of blank space in the second section feel like a wasted canvas for creating more of a completely immersive interaction between visitor and artist.
Nonetheless, Thater has an undeniable talent for exploring the contrasting realities between mankind and the animal kingdom and her focus on the monkey as a creature of great depth is certainly a rare display to find in such modern surrounds within the bustling hub of London’s city centre.
Diana Thater: Life Is a Time-Based Medium is at Hauser & Wirth until 16th May 2015, for further information visit here.