Tag Archives: Installation
The Playhouses of Our Grandparents by Nicholas Henry is more than the photographic project consisting of 400 portraits gathered in the book with the same title. It is an extraordinary life experience, which the artist undertook a few years ago and which led him in 40 countries.
Reminiscent of his childhood, when his grandparents thought him the link between a playhouse and the importance of storytelling, Henry embarked in a journey that has been not only geographical but also existential. In fact, in each country he visited, he invited people to freely create a theatrical playhouse, while sharing stories with the community. ‘Inside everyone of us, lies the youthful spirit of a child, who revels in creating, with everyday items around him, a world invented entirely by his imagination’ Henry declares in the preface of the book.
Every time, in South Africa as much as in Chile, in Japan as much as in Chile and everywhere else, the simple photo-shoot had evolved into a theatre thanks to the storytelling activities of the members of the community.
From the Aboriginal in Australia, trying to preserve the legacy of their ancient knowledge to the power of literature discovered by a Japanese woman after the Second World War, passing through the holy harmony that Jordan desert can teach you, Nicholas Henry expresses the sense of the project in these words: ‘The Playhouse gradually became a vehicle for freedom of speech, a setting where memories, revelations and the joy of sharing reigned’.
Art is often analyzed either through the intention of the artist or through the reactions it triggers in the viewer, the best case scenario being the two coincide. But The Playhouses of Our Grandparents defies this binary logic. In fact, if we – as viewer – are captured by the ethos of this journey, the portraits also activate our own personal imagination and invite us to listen to our own stories, the ones that this universe of colours, tools, places and faces can evoke.
Images courtesy of Nicholas Henry
At first sight the installations created by Californian Monica Canilao can make you think of inhabited rooms, where the walls are covered in wallpaper and drapes and weird objects accumulate on pieces of furniture. The space results packed with a modern form of horror vacui and someone may diagnose its virtual occupant with hoarder disorder. Made with scavenged materials and found objects, the apparently chaotic installations by Monica Canilao occupy entire rooms, creating originally lively environments out of old discarded items. In a way, Canilao is a hoarder: she incessantly gathers discarded materials and objects. These are the still alive remnants of previous uses and lives that speak to the artist’s inspiration. It is difficult to classify Canilao‘s artistic practice. She does not have a medium of choice: everything at hand can serve her creative energies. She off-handedly switches from drawing, printing and stitching to building; from small works to massive installations. The big spaces she creates are densely furnished and decorated up to the smallest corner. They look naturally chaotic and for this same reason lively, warm and intimate. Craft plays a priceless role in Canilao‘s art. In fact, it is only through mastering her crafts that she is able to rescue discarded materials, giving them a completely new purpose. Canilao‘s inspiration is nourished by the old and neglected objects that once surrounded a life, from old photographs to decorative objects. These items emanate a strong, evocative power which activates the imagination. Even some old tea-bags release a poetic energy in her work. We live in an era of mass production and disposability: we easily discard still-functioning objects in the name of the latest ones. Canilao‘s art is a reaction to this trend. She demonstrates that the old is a carrier of the new, provided that we actively and imaginatively engage with it. For more of Monica Canilao‘s art visit her website here and her blog here.
(This post is a revision of a feature written for Frameweb).
The new installation by Scottish Rob Mulholland conjures up imaginative universes, while at the same time inducing a reflective space.
When I came across the iron sculpture Miss Jasmine by Joana Vasconcelos, the way this artist transforms iron in a delicately filigreed tea pot reminded me of Cal Lane‘s work. But digging into Vasconcelos’ practice has revealed me an unexpectedly rich and explosive body of work that constantly escapes any definition.
Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen creates graciously incongruous dream-like universes, where lifeless everyday objects inhabit natural and apparently unaltered-by-man landscapes.