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For Dutch artist Falke Pisano, the body is an obsession. This show is the latest in a series dedicated to exploring pivotal moments in history that have had profound effects on the body, such as the shift from feudalism to industrialism or the impact of shell shock in WWI.
Her work is essentially a constant process of research, changing as her knowledge grows. In the middle of the gallery stands a structure composed of black walls and curtains hung from seven wooden triangles – It’s the manifestation of her exploration. Every time it’s shown, it changes shape. Though basically the same in terms of its component parts it constantly mutates, acting as a metaphor for the body itself.
Blackboards covered with rough images of praying figures and scrawled phrases about incarceration hang on the walls, feeling dangerously delicate. A step out of line and you could wipe the whole lot clean. Whoops.
Two video pieces based on clinical research into the effects of shell shock feature black-and-white images of twitching patients as well as paintings by German dadaist George Grosz. A final video finds Pisano talking about the means of reproduction and the harshness of war. But her haughty, academic approach holds you at a distance, making the piece unapproachable.
The show is saved by a subtle, minimal aesthetic that’s built to evolve. There’s an interesting notion at play here, with codes and images for you to decipher if you want to invest the time. Delving into Pisano’s world can be rewarding – it’s just really hard work.