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Limerick City Gallery of Art. Limerick. Ireland

July/August 2015

unforeseen hindrance (4)

Beatriz Escudero García


We walk into a room and in the centre of it a mass of objects smear our steps. A big structure formed by old furniture, piled as if it was an assemblage, creates an enclosed space within the room.

Old movables and unused objects, are stacked as if they were in an old attic.

Gradually we observe that this structure is animated: little objects made out of a variety of delicate materials, paper, feathers, dolls, pins, metallic pieces, reside on the surfaces and move in autonomous ways.

They look animated by a strange energy that confers on them their own life. The atmosphere becomes more and more strained, our hearing captures new sounds, creaks, cracklings and the tic-tic of clock mechanisms.

Senses aggravate; now we can even get the soft smell of old wood, the mites, the fabric, the dust. We become aware of the lights and shadows that move around us. It feels like we are not alone...

We walk our gaze through all the nooks and gaps looking for an explanation of what we are seeing. Our mind travels backwards, to the past; to a fantasy world in which reality and imagination intermingle, when any corner of the house could become a new world, magic as well as terrifying.

We transfer ourselves into that instant lost in our memory; We recover the curiosity unique to childhood and we let ourselves go with the feeling between the shivers and the  enchantment. Just there, a bizarre but familiar sensation puts us on the alert.


In the dark room,  Vanessa Donoso López, exploits the voyeuristic potential of the viewer, introducing them into a personal world, intimate and fantastic. At the same time, the installation erects and supports itself on multiple elements becoming part of an atavistic and sinister fiction; this distressing feeling, that Sigmund Freud classified in one of his texts, became the closest esthetic analysis that he ever created. Freud’s research encourages the itemization,  in a rational way,  of what confers to certain objects and experiences the sensation of the unheimlich. He did it through the dissection of horror stories like Der Sandmann by E.T.A Hoffmann and other traditional fantastic narratives. In this way, the sinister ties in with situations that unleash fears and dreads, like the doubts raised when an inanimate object seems animated, or the other way around a living being becomes no longer so; Or the encounter with the double, among other anguishing trances. He even describes situations that can raise momentary horror feelings, although they could appear comical, like finding oneself in a dark and unfamiliar room, frantically looking for the switch and stumbling into a piece of furniture. 


We find all those elements in the Dark room; objects strangely animated, a dismal room, the piled furniture waiting to be bumped into, if the artist wanted to condense a set of situations that could cause uneasiness; a little room of infantile terrors. The viewers, nevertheless, feel safe: aware as if a fantastic story was told, as if they were under the control of the fiction.  In the same way as a theatre play, its about getting a cathartic effect that will make us confront our personal fears and memories without major damage.


Vanessa Donoso López’s work runs away from the classic conception of art being just a set of objects to be contemplated in a white, aseptic, clinical and almost spiritual cube, like the one that Brian O’Doherty explored in his work ‘Inside the with cube’. Quite the opposite, she looks to create an atmosphere similar to the Surrealist or closer to installations by Canadian artists Janet Cardiff & Georges Bures Miller. Within the last few decades, there has been an expansion of installations that use sound and moving elements, currently becoming an artistic genre itself. These are works that act on different senses like hearing or touch. They fight against the preeminence that the sense of sight has had in the history of art. Generally, they operate in a broader sensorial sphere, where they exert themselves to investigate emotions, even the ones that are remotely hiding in our subconscious.


Vanessa’s creative process resembles the one of a scenographer that devise an unreal space, where a complex choreography with dramatic effects happen, with the object to create the appropriate environment to welcome the observer. The core of her project gets reveled this way, that what constitutes the axis of her work, the spectators, which she forced to resign their role of mere viewers and become active subjects. The piece is a scenario prepared toreceive a spectator-actor. And at the same time, their ambulation in a temporary space is the essential element to set the piece into operation. The potencial of this type of artwork exists within the dialogue that is stablished with the recipients and consequently, in its opening to the possibility of exploration and multiple interpretation, as diverse as each of the visitors contemplating the installation. This is a work that isn’t dispatched at a glance, it needs specific attention and time to relish its elements and to allow sensations to rise.


With this said, we just need to leave our watches aside, enter the room fearlessly, and let ourselves go.



Beatriz Escudero Garcia, July 2015


(4) In response to the DARK ROOM

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