South London Gallery: At The Moment of Being Heard (until 8th September 2013)

Before I begin the full content of this post, may I just say what an incredible, internationally renowned art hub the South London Gallery, SE5, is. My last visit prior to today was a few months ago, where the exhibit was a film by artist duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz. This was not only extravagant, but thought-provoking and genuinely entertaining. The reputation of the gallery is aided by its geographical links with the Camberwell College of Arts only next door, an institution that contributes hugely to the world of modern art and its future.

So enough delay, with the promise of an interactive season of art in the form of 'At The Moment of Being Heard', I held the exhibit with much anticipation. However, the assortment of artists selected for the temporary exhibition did not seem to share enough to be placed in the same room. I must add that as part of the exhibition there are several events taking place in the local area in addition to the Main Gallery and First Floor Galleries. These include workshops exploring sound, a conversation with artist Baudouin Oosterlynck, whose work I shall address, and a performance by Japanese artist and dancer, Junko Wada.

Now if I speak of my visit in some sort of chronological order, I will start with the Main Gallery, which despite its large 'suspended speakers', is oddly disengaging. A vast white space with several pieces and little to no citation was extremely frustrating, especially as there were a family in the room with small children playing with one of the pieces. Of course my frustration did not lie with the family, but the lack of citation, which did not provide visitors with the opportunity to be educated as they would hope to be. A title such as the one this exhibit holds would imply that visitors are able to use multiple senses but I am honestly disappointed by the lack of ability to really feel immersed in such a project. Perhaps the several events surrounding the exhibition help with this.

Underwhelmed by the Main Gallery, I headed to the First Floor Galleries where Oosterlynck's works from his 1990 collection 'Variations of Silence' documented a journey through Europe. Simple sketches 'with a very free form' certainly need the booklet of citations to be understood, particularly for non-French speakers. The artist's own words are almost poetic in the booklet, and certainly help in explaining his pieces. Combining geography and art, Oosterlynck delivers his experiences with a profound depth, describing how his 'ears needed to rest for five or six days before being able to hear the variations of silence'. His journey was less a tourist stint, more like an experiment on how to experience the world differently, which is what I feel Oosterlynck wants to teach his audience.

Although this is not an exhibition I would necessarily recommend to followers of this blog, it has awoken my interest as to how other parts of At The Moment of Being Heard will follow.

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