Review of Camden Arts Centre Autumn Exhibitions
Today, Camden Arts Centre opens two exciting new exhibitions: Nathalie Djurberg’s A World of Glass, with music by Hans Berg; and Haroon Mirza’s I Saw Square Triangle Sine. Both these artists have created forms of 3D collage, each layering seemingly-opposing elements; tangible objects and intangible sound, light and dark, the animate and the static, the made and the readymade. While very different, both works are totally immersive, rendering the viewer part of the composition – a new layer of the collage –,drawing you into a new world.
Haroon Mirza’s world of ‘music’, ‘noise’, and ‘sound’ overflows out of gallery 3. This complex audio installation explores the distinction between these three categories by creating an audioscape that could be both any one of them, and none of them simultaneously; it is difficult to decide whether it is something that you want to listen to, or simply a plain nuisance. The ambiguity is augmented by the setup in the centre of the room – furniture, lights, electronic equipment and a drum kit –, creating an expectation of some kind of performance, the room empty in anticipation. Added to the mix is what the artist describes as a reverse-readymade, Mirza re-using the Underdone / Overdone Paintings by Angus Fairhurst, a work in which people are encouraged to play the drums while viewing paintings. In this way, Mirza incorporates a further layer to the collage of objects and sound that surrounds the viewer, heightening the tension, and leaving the you even more unsure of what is about to happen.
Entering the world of Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg is like stepping into a fairytale. Galleries 1 and 2 contain A World of Glass, filled with tables scattered in delicate, glistening glass sculptures. They appear both solid and liquid simultaneously, large and small. Projected onto the walls of the gallery are four films made from a technique known as ‘claymation’. Their characters – the bull, the bird, the crocodile and the women – are painterly while the colours are rich and vivid. At first glance these films appear naïve and childlike, however the scenarios enacted are disturbing and sinister, unveiling darker sides to the human condition. The music by Hans Berg provides the soundtrack for these films and fills the entire gallery; it is made up of deep throbbing sounds as well as the tinkles of glass. This installation is a collage of delicate beauty and dark sin, with the layering seeming to create a world of neutrality, free of moral judgement. You are thus forced into taking a position on what you see around you; although you must address moral uncertainty, it is in a world of beauty, a world you never want to leave.