Leandro Erlich: Dalston House
The Argentinian artist guides us round his participatory east London installation
© Gar Powell-Evans, courtesy Barbican Art Gallery
A disused lot in Dalston has been transformed into an art installation that trades on the fairground 'House of Mirrors' illusion. But instead of being turned into obscure blobs and wobbly silhouettes, you can scale the façade of a Victorian terraced house, with your feet never leaving the ground. Conceived by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich, 'Dalston House' creates a masterful illusion that will be fun for everyone.
Below he talks us through the four key elements of the work.
Leandro Erlich came to prominence at the tender age of 28, when he represented Argentina at the Venice Biennale in 2001. Interested in the interactions that occur within functional spaces, he applies a series of alterations – in this case a mirrored wall at a 45-degree angle – to warp our experience: ‘We usually take familiar spaces for granted; I find them important because this is where life actually happens. The ambition is to create a fiction from the ordinary.’
Always wanted to abseil down a building but never had the guts? Or wished you lived in a fantastical world where ceilings become floors? ‘Dalston House’ gives all the family the chance to become Spiderman without ever needing a harness: ‘Very often we hear that there is no art without a viewer. There’s definitely a performance element to this work, it’s almost like a play that has its own script and the viewer completes it.’
Erlich’s installations often occur in art galleries, but here he’s placed the work directly within an urban setting. ‘Dalston House’ sits on a lot that was bombed during WWII: ‘The place we chose to produce the project has a strong sense of belonging and that gets incorporated in the work.’
Coming from a family of architects has certainly influenced Erlich’s use of space. This latest installation echoes the Victorian houses in the area: ‘I’ve been to London many times, but I’ve never paid attention to how important and how different the areas are. What was interesting was not to make an exact reproduction of a building but to look around the neighbourhood and compose something with different elements from different buildings.’
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