Gunilla Klingberg: Parallelareal Variable
Eastside Projects, Birmingham
8 June - 3 August 2013
Review by Anneka French
Gunilla Klingberg’s site-specific installation ‘Parallelareal Variable’ seeks to explore the unseen, ancient and spiritual factors that shape the natural world and one’s relationship to it. Her new commission for Eastside Projects takes as its subject purported geophysical energy grids called Curry lines, a theory of electro-magnetic power channels similar to Ley lines devised by Dr Manfred Curry in the middle of the twentieth century.
As the title of the exhibition suggests, Klingberg examines sites beyond what one can see: the world as it exists outside of the rational, logical and the scientific. In ‘Parallelareal Variable’ the gallery is transformed into an immersive three-dimensional grid of screens composed of long strands of hanging metallic beads in a physical manifestation of the Curry lines that criss-cross the site of the gallery. To navigate the work, the viewer must walk through and push against these permeable semi-transparent structures which simultaneously reveal and conceal. Intricate shadows and softly shimmering rainbow fragments are formed by the space’s changing light. Despite this beauty, the stark and enclosed form of the work also evokes a sense of something darker, calling to mind Conrad Shawcross’ ‘Slow Arc inside a Cube’ (2008), in which an electric light moving inside a meshed box casts continuous shadows on its surrounding space. The complex literal and conceptual shifting of Klingberg’s beaded screens is heightened by a subtle series of animated projections by Peter Geschwind which layer a further set of linear patterns on to the formal geometric structure.
The Curry lines visualised in Eastside Projects were professionally dowsed to identify fields of positive and negative energy connected to the site’s history and geography. Breaching these fixed lines is thought to bring bad luck, and yet, here, the artist makes crossing them at once a tempting and pleasurable experience for the viewer, seemingly subverting the very idea she visualises. The complex debates which surround such superstitious and spiritual notions provide a framework for Klingberg’s practice in relation to pattern and site. In another of the artist’s indoor site-specific works, ‘Wheel of Everyday Life’ (2013), the cosmological diagram of Eastern spirituality known as the mandala is combined with contemporary motifs to build an alternative picture of the universe on a very large scale, metaphysically transforming the space in a manner akin to the Curry lines.
It is additionally worth considering ‘Parallelareal Variable’ in the context of Eastside Projects’ wider curatorial interests. The gallery houses a number of permanent artworks which are semi-hidden within the space, and in it there exist imperceptible traces of previously shown artworks: an accumulation of visible and invisible marks upon the fabric of the gallery over time. This layering of history, memory and materiality aptly dovetails with Klingberg’s concerns. The artist’s installation is entirely activated by the audience both bodily and psychologically, and by breaking the lines Klingberg has set out, visitors’ footsteps trace new lines on the concrete floor, raising questions regarding the shaping of everyday life: the prescribed lines that one follows, the boxes one is placed within and the choices one makes. Ultimately, the exhibition is a charged microcosm in which to contemplate one’s own unique position within the universe.