Matti Braun: Showroom. (Reviews: London)

By Archer, Michael | Artforum International, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Matti Braun: Showroom. (Reviews: London)


Archer, Michael, Artforum International


Matti Braun had flooded the front section of Showroom, turning it into a little lake. Slices of tree trunk scattered within this pool provided stepping stones by means of which the visitor could get from the door to the small flight of steps leading to the back of the space. There were several possible routes across and a number of places where the beginnings of a pathway led out into the water before petering out. The firm ground and higher level of the gallery's back space having been reached a number of patolas--brightly colored, geometrically patterned Bengali fabrics--could be seen on the walls, together with reproductions of several pages from the notebooks of Rabindranath Tagore. On one of these pages Tagore discusses a passage in the Vedas concerning man's erect posture. Through being "raised upwards," says the Veda, man "found also the oblique sides and all other directions in him." Looking at the world from our elevated vantage point, we can both see our place in it and understand its relation to ou r essential inner self. Inevitably, therefore, one's thoughtfully mapped-out and executed passage across the pool and up into the gallery's oddly shaped, oblique-sided rear space could be seen as a journey to a place where one encountered not merely "individual facts and things" but "a great unity of view."

There were many "individual facts and things" that required connecting in this compact installation. Braun's title for the exhibition, "R.T.," provided a double reference. While the letters stand as the initials of the Bengali poet, writer, composer, educator, and Nobel laureate Tagore, they echo those of Steven Spielberg's extraterrestrial E.T. The pairing seems bizarre, but it is not entirely arbitrary. One of the students at Santiniketan, the educational establishment founded by Tagore in 1901, was Satyajit Ray. …

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