The Float in the Sight of Things | Ferens Art Gallery, Hull in collaboration with the Museu Frederic Marès, Barcelona | 1997
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Jonathan Allen's installation at the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull is a subtle exploration of, to paraphrase Noel Coward, the power of cheap magic.
series of works linked by a meditation on the idiosyncratic Frederic Marés
Museum in Barcelona, Allen toys with scale and perception to recreate
the sense of wonder and folly within that particular museum, and within
museums in general.
Three further sections of the installation continue the theme of see-through illusion. A black and white photograph of the small clicker used to count visitors into a museum is blown up and presented on a huge canvas. Its number however is frozen in movement, as if a ghost presence were permanently crossing the museum's threshold. In another corner of the gallery, a spot-lit map of the Marés Museum is suddenly plunged into darkness, whereupon the map remains visible, traced out in green luminous ink against the blackness.
Most miraculous of all, two views of rooms within the museum have been rendered using that 3-D effect more commonly found on religious postcards or children's rulers. Looked at from one angle, the galleries are crowded with Marés's eccentric selection of objects, but move your head to one side and all the objects disappear, transforming the rooms into that most poignant oxymoron: an empty museum.
Float in the Sight of Things tests both our power to effect, and desire
to experience moments of transformation. For a willing audience, the mundane
becomes charged with the marvelous. Check in your doubt at the door and
enjoy the magic lantern show.
Photography Mark Enstone
All works © Jonathan Allen 2012. All photographs are © their respective authors.