Manon De Boer: Framed in an Open Window

Article excerpt

Manon de Boer: Framed in an open Window

South London Gallery London

3 December to 23 January

Suggested trajectories through an exhibition are often interesting to ignore, but taking the errant route through Manon de Boer's first UK solo show could neutralise its effect. 'Framed in an Open Window' presents a selection of five works--a sound piece and four 35mm and 16mm films--displayed across the South London Gallery's two newest spaces. At the show's core is Dissonant, 2010, de Boer's new work and the point at which the exhibition begins. It contains and articulates the themes of memory, recall and attention that are present throughout, crystallising the focus of de Boer's investigation while priming the viewer to receive what is to come. There is a certain sensory preparation at work here, a feeling that we are being taught how to look and listen, how to attend properly to stimuli.

In Dissonant, dancer Cynthia Loemij from the Rosas company performs a ten-minute response to Eugene Ysaye's Three Sonatas for Violin prelude. The film begins with Loemij listening to and internalising the music's dynamic flow. The prelude ends and she travels through the mirrorless dance studio, extending and contracting her body in an emotive display of tension and release. The first of de Boer's film-reel changes follows, resulting in a flash of white leader and a black screen. While a second reel is loaded, the sound of Loemij's physical exertion continues and is foregrounded. Limbs and feet slide against the studio floor and the respiratory sounds of inhaling and exhaling puncture the darkness. Once the picture returns it becomes apparent that the sensory ratio between sound and vision has been realigned and balanced, and that for a short while the task of remembrance is shifted from Loemij to the viewer. During the dark moments of Dissonant--the changing of reels happens again later--we're invited to construct what isn't there from memory, linking the discarnate sounds on film to the movements that produced them before. Two key statements of intention are made here: de Boer is asking us to see and experience recall in Loemij and ourselves, simultaneously creating the conditions for a heightened awareness of those processes.

Switch, 1998, a sound work featuring the singer Alison Goldfrapp, makes use of this heightened sensitivity by presenting Goldfrapp's vocal responses to people speaking different languages. Instructed to interpret the tone, rhythm and intonation of three short monologues, Goldfrapp's melismatic vocal abstractions seem perfectly intelligible after Dissonant's breathy soundtrack. …