Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at The Curve, Barbican


His installation for The Curve will take the form of a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other instruments and objects.
No, really. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's installation is a charming piece made all the more entertaining on the occasion that I went by there being a number of toddlers and young children wandering around ('Daddy they've sat on your head twice but they haven't sat on ME!').

The first half of the gallery space is darkened, with semi-strobic projections of the Les Paul guitars used in the piece being played by humans. The idea, one imagines, is to deter the birds from flying out of the gallery. Actually, it doesn't seem quite so necessary once one has encountered these tiny but perfectly happy tits going about their business: chirrupping, eating & drinking (food and water in upturned ride cymbals), fighting, flirting and attempting to nest on one of the half dozen guitars with local, discreet amplification. Still the Lynchian walk from the entrance to the brightly/as-natural lit space manages to effect a useful separation between the installation and the outside world, where people queue for twenty minutes or so to keep cap on numbers in the space. And this crowd management works - the exhibition is remarkable for the proximity with which one can view the birds who seem entirely unruffled by our presence.

The art itself has little pretention towards metaphor or statement. It is what it is, the birds creating a close-up 3-D revolve of industry and inconsequential dialogue, leaving behind only droppings and the occasional power chord.

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