Thursday, 13 November 2008

Two Women

In another of Meireles’ installations I was leaning across a farm gate, looking through a metal grille, which was apparently attached to a plastic shower curtain just to the left, at a large oblong tank of water containing fish whose transparent flesh left their skeletons revealed, and who in their obliging movements composed themselves as a dynamic diagram in flesh of the suspended fences, meshes and windows that surrounded them. They offered biological proof, an inverted evolutionary recapitulation of the interdependence between the defensive mode of disappearance, and the tender unselfconsciousness of the unwittingly revealed; in hiding their flesh they disclosed the fragility of their bones. Through this figurative allusion the entire collection of permeable barriers –all of which are so familiar to us- acquired the characteristics of artifacts, the expansive quality of objects from which we can inductively touch a universal instinct. The people in the work were walking on shattered glass that crunched under their feet, and they, we, were staring -half in confusion half in pleasure- at the anthropological residue of our innately human and biological drive to materially conceal and divide; but at the same time, through the fish, the floor, the dispensation of planes and transparency and blue-ish light, Meireles shifts the focus from the explicit motivation of defense and abnegation of contact to its usually unnoticed corollary; that is the heightening of the potency of visibility; the increase in value of permeability; the ramping up of diverging instincts encompassed in artifacts that are the manifestations of this tension. Each artifact of separation, each item of division exaggerates the pleasure of seeing through, of the denouement of space; and just as I was perched on the gate, looking through the installation at the skeletal fish, I was submerged, inundated by the words of one woman to another. They had both slipped out from behind the shower curtain, and -as they both looked back to where my over-avid gaze was directed- one exclaimed “Oh look, I love that! I do love water features. You know how I love my water features… that’s just lovely, isn’t it?!”. I love them too, and yes, it was.

No comments: