The London Open 2015 / Sarah Roberts / Whitechapel Gallery

One of the most interesting proposals in The London Open 2015 at Whitechapel Gallery, the triennial showing the latest trends in the city, is the installation Ambersands, by Sarah Roberts. As a sculptural collage, the artist combines presentation and representation. There are real objects, and there is not a pedestal, but vinyl and plastic make up a sort of determined performance space. However, this space is not completely separated, the floor and the wall of the gallery are mixed with the elements arranged. The breaking of the fourth wall occurs when we identify the gallery floor, the same as we step, through a cut in the vinyl wich is delimiting the installation. We are not strictly off-site. The work and the viewer are on the same plane.

The objects are chosen for what they are, but also because how they are, their color, their shape. A fan is a device we recognize but also  a white rectangular piece. Colorful painted circles seem brought into real space from a pictorical space, are tangible, are present. The system works both as an abstract space, a combination of shapes and colors, such as identifying, in a figurative level, of certain elements. We recognize the fan, mobile, electrical cords and plugs, vinyl, lights and painted polystyrene. The latter seems to have been previously discarded, like a leftover element from other work and now occupies a place almost casually, almost unnoticed. The lightness, that Italo Calvino claimed in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, with so many elements involved, is one of the achievements of this proposal. Being deeply complex, we feel like friendly, refreshing, fun, accessible.

A video on a mobile phone leaves open the negotiation between fact and fiction. The phone is a device for daily use. The video is a pocket representation, art to wear, to take away. The phone is also a display space for visual art, similar to the pictorical space on a canvas, similar to the system in which it is located. That trip back and forth, that feedback, questions postmodern presentation taken as dogma. And nothing is as contradictory as dogma and postmodernism. As soon as the work is in a stage, as soon as there is a spectator, representation comes into play.

The London Open 2015

Whitechapel Gallery


15 July – 6 September 2015