Seeing things differently

Opening at Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery this week is an intriguing exhibition that promises to question the act of looking and challenge you to ’consider the possibility of seeing yourself seeing things differently’.

Confused? With a title like Magical Consciousness, its not too much of a surprise. The exhibition has been developed in collaboration with London based artist-filmmaker Runa Islam that looks for the potential that comes out of denying or abstracting images.

Helena Almeida, Inhabited Painting 1976. Courtesy Collection Môdulo-Centro Difusor de Arte
Helena Almeida, Inhabited Painting 1976. Courtesy Collection Môdulo-Centro Difusor de Arte

In practical terms this means a collection of work involving mirrors, layers, and projectors.

Ellen Harvey’s Collection of Impossible Subjects, 2008, is an interpretation of a salon-style museum etched onto a large mirror-wall, with elaborate frames housing portraits of visitors to the exhibition.

Ellen Harvey, Collection of Impossible Subjects, (detail), 2007, Installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo: Jan Baracz, 2008
Ellen Harvey, Collection of Impossible Subjects, (detail), 2007, Installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo: Jan Baracz, 2008

Similarly David Maljkovic’s film installation Recalling Frames uses this idea of a reflexive projection into the space of the viewer with a 16mm projector. The project is based upon key scenes in Orson Welles’ movie The Trial where the protagonist is seen standing in front of a blank screen inside a factory, illuminated by the light of a slide projector.

Another key piece from the exhibition is an Aztec mirror made from polished black obsidian on loan from the British Museum. The object was used by the ancient South American culture to look into the future.

Like much of the programming at the Arnolfini, it’s a rather cerebral and academic show, but one which promises some intriguing exhibits.

Magical Consciousness runs until 3 July at Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol UK BS1 4QA.      

 

 

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