Out Of Body

Open Eye Gallery, Wood Street
25th January – 22nd March 2008

Reviewed by Alison Cornmell

Out of Body is the new exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery of both photography and moving images, all exploring the theme of the human body.

Namiko Kitaura’s piece ‘Healing Pool’ shows a digital representation of herself submerged in water, leading up to a moment when tiny fishes nibble away at her skin. This muffled world where the artist’s figure floats submerges the viewer too, as I found myself staring into the screen becoming part of this flowing seamless world. The calming sound of water however is interrupted throughout with more violent sounds of water crashing and so interrupting my lull, and pushing me to the next piece in the gallery.

Yannick Demmele’s long exposure photography captures the artist sitting in gloomy motel rooms. The images are in negative making the images a shadow of what they originally were. These photographs have an eerie quality that is heightened by their life size; the scale of the image makes us guests in this motel room watching on at this ghostlike figure.

Four images adorn the gallery walls; each head and shoulder shot sees the face being masked by the figures hair. The wrapped hair blocks out the power of sight, smell, sound, and hearing. Valie Export’s pieces show a token of femininity overpowering the females and the images themselves, becoming an object of hindrance rather than an aspect of womanhood. Naia de Castillo portrays the female body being trapped too, with a woman’s skirt doubling as a chair cushion tied down unable to escape. The figure is literally part of the furniture struggling to break free as she stands up, the chair still attached.

Douglas Gordon’s video piece shows living bodies interacting with images of themselves. Although this piece like the others drew me in it did seem a little self-indulgent. The cynic in me can’t help wondering why he chose a beautiful blonde young woman to lie naked with images of herself. Is this his male fantasy thinly disguised as art?

Nevertheless this exhibition had a soothing almost hypnotic quality about it. The bodies of the gallery goers almost become part of the pieces. The pieces promote a stillness and quietness in the gallery, with only the sound of slow movements between pieces to be heard. There is no objection or resistance to the art works as you stand staring into them, and so we too become - out of body.

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