I was lucky to be one of 200 people at a reading of De Profundis writted by Oscar Wilde and read by Patti Smith at the ‘Inside’ exhibition, Reading Prison. The exhibition was put together by Artangel and Reading prison was where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated for homosexuality.
Patti smiths epic, nearly 4 hr, reading was incredibly moving. Touching on the loneliness and isolation that Oscar Wilde experienced. This sense of loneliness seemed to have a sense almost of mourning. His desire to see the sun, feel a breeze is almost despairing. I feel that in the same way my salt bowl is attempting to touch on these emotions too.
The exhibition included writing, readings and art including work by:
I am fascinated by the work of Doris Salcedo but have never had the opportunity to view her work in real life. The piece of work at the prison by Doris Salcedo was moving set within this situation. Tables placed one on top of the other with packed soil between them. Grass is seen growing where there are spaces to come through.
My interpretation of the work is the struggle and determination to make it through difficult situations. That there is still place to grown even in a restricted space. New life in spite of situations.
I like the use of everyday materials here to describe quite commonplace experience. I too am drawn to use materials in a similar way. Materials not necessarily regarded as art materials but ones that have a greater impact because of their every day nature
Marlene Dumas’ portraits have a deep harrowing and pained sense to them that sum up the struggles of incarceration.
I don’t normally like the work of Robert Gober but in this situation I think these pieces work amazingly. One of the pieces consisted of a cast metal treaure chest placed on the floor over a hole in the ground. Through the hole we see a female form laid down and holding her stomach open to reveal running water and a forest floor. This otherworldly vision could be the dreams of someone with no hope of release. Memories mixed together to create a disconcerting dreamlike glimpse of freedom.
Overall the thing I am left with after visiting this exhibition is how important not just the work is but it’s situation. How much more powerful some pieces of work were, because of the venue. Work does not always have to be situated within a traditional gallery space, and in some cases work actually benefits from these sorts of opportunities.