3 September – 3 October 1993
A large black and white photograph hangs over a window at one end of the gallery. It presents a detail of the face of the Madonna in Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Virgin of the Rocks’. This painting represents an idealised notion of female perfection: mother and virgin at once. Historically afforded the status of ‘masterpiece’, it is itself presented as an object of ‘perfection’. The image has been copied from a reproduction, re-photographed, and re-presented. The madonna’s downward gaze and partially closed eyes are echoed by the blinds drawn over the remaining windows, reducing the amount of light falling into the space, and restricting our view out of the gallery.
The surface of the floor is punctuated with glass lenses of varying sizes, each reflecting and distorting the space in which it lies. They recall drops of water, or heavenly bodies.
Any expectation of entering the space is thwarted by a large sheet of glass in the double doorway normally used to enter the gallery. We are forced to peer into a sealed environment through the sandblasted design of a pair of wrought iron gates. The design is sandblasted in negative and the interior beyond is viewed, not around the gates, but, literally through them.
The predominant use of natural light means that the ‘feel’ or ‘mood’ of this installation changes according to the available daylight. An overcast day flattens the light and increases the weight of the work, while direct sunlight casts shadows from the gridwork of window frames and security grills onto the blinds and photographs inside and reflections from the surface of the canal outside move cloud-like across the ceiling.
Cultural and sensory experience draws the viewer into the space, yet denies physical interaction. The obstruction created by the glass panel disrupts our expectations. We may not approach these isolated elements. We are denied completion of the experience of looking. Left outside as voyeurs, there can be no entry to this place.