Untouched as Unknown and Some Time. Jae Hoon Lee and Gabby O’Connor.
Corban Estate Arts Centre. 17 May – 16 June.
I approached the latest show at Corban Estate Arts Centre with an open mind, in all honesty I had only known of Gabby O’Connor’s work from the publicity on the Boosted website as the very first project to be completely funded. I arrived just as the doors opened, which allowed me to enter the room and experience her installation without the noise and distractions of other people.
My initial thought was that it really did feel like I had walked into an ice cave – dark blues and whites, little light and an eerie stillness filled the space. I blew out my breath at one point as if to check that I had not in fact been transported elsewhere. The sheer size and effort that would have been put into creating the installation is impressive, it almost feels as though you have to be quiet in the room for fear of causing it to crumble.
Although I visited only in the evening there is a part of me that is apprehensive about seeing it in the daytime, perhaps it would just appear as it really is – a sculptural form made out of tissue paper and sticks – and the magic and illusion that I experienced initially would be gone.
An obvious yet very worthy connection to show alongside O’Connor was Jae Hoon Lee’s photographic and video pieces made from his residencies in Antarctica and Nepal. His manipulated images of vast spaces and places complement O’Connors own interpretation well and to walk between the two artists works at Corbans seemed like a natural fit.
My favourite image of Hoon lee’s was actually not his icy photographs but the large, barren cliff face with a track on it – perhaps it is because of the way that he has manipulated the image to seem as though it never ends or perhaps it is that these kinds of images are what I like to photograph in my own practice. Whatever the reasoning, I was drawn back to this one image over and over again during the course of the evening.
There is a sense of reflection and stillness throughout the exhibition that one can only associate with the Antarctic, even as I sat in front of Hoon Lee’s video – rippling water on a loop with a small chunk of ice in the top left corner – I was struck by its ability to make all of those who entered instantly hush and watch the ripples move from one side of the screen to the other with seemingly no end in sight and with only a few words whispered between them.
As the gallery started to fill there was the usual hubbub of an exhibition opening that overtook the contemplative nature of the exhibition. I was glad to have had some time on my own in the space so that for a few minutes I could transport myself to the vastness of the Antarctic.
Photo Credit: Talia Smith