Williams, Gregory, Artforum International
MURRAY GUY GALLERY
In a passage from The Poetics of Space (1958) in which he discusses the solitude and passivity to be experienced in the corner of a room, Gaston Bachelard urges poets to "designate the space of our immobility by making it the space of our being." Ann Lislegaard's Corner Piece--The Space Between Us, 2000-2003--two freestanding, white-painted facades meeting at a right angle a short distance from the gallery walls--seemed to respond directly to Bachelard. Though the piece offered little information on a visual level, the space-shaping presence of recorded voices, emanating from speakers installed at the outer comers of the false walls, countered the initial impression of absence.
Lislegaard's piece placed a heavy burden on the viewer's auditory sensitivity. One had to listen carefully to get the gist of what was being said; sound came first from one speaker, then another, in no apparent order; the outlines of a conversation could just barely be grasped. Lacking the tonal intimacy of, say, Janet Cardiff's binaural headphones, Lislegaard's installation forced the viewer to strain (in polar opposition to Bruce Nauman's habit of yelling at the audience). One wondered whether this was an intentional effort to encourage concentration or merely a technical glitch; the flimsiness of the walls also contributed to a certain sense of the provisional.
Yet after a few minutes of immersion in the corner, the space seemed to expand and adopt new and interesting contours. The narrative that takes loose shape involves a clandestine meeting--it's as if your presence there had been prearranged. References to the body--"my lips, your lips, whispering ..."--and descriptions of how the "visitor" occupies the corner are given a fragmented delivery; often, individual words are simply repeated. …