Last Friday the Crop-Up team were invited along to the opening of Backlit Gallery’s latest exhibition, Hyper Real part II, featuring the work of Dutch artist and designer Paul Heijnen, co-director of Backlit Leila Al-Yousuf and recent Goldsmiths graduate Anastasia Shin. Naturally we happily accepted this invitation and on the 30th a number of us headed down to Backlit to check it all out.
Backlit in itself was established in 2008 as an entirely volunteer led organisation, with the aim to provide graduates with a space within which to curate exhibitions and exhibit their work. Located just east of Nottingham city centre, the gallery space occupies an upper floor of a disused industrial building, giving it a certain edge and raw, unfinished quality which lends itself perfectly to the young, contemporary artists that work and exhibit within it. On arrival at the building we were surprised and excited to discover such an innovative space, with the unexpected location only adding to the overall feel and atmosphere- a sort of blissfully secluded creative bubble amongst routine, industrial surroundings.
The main gallery space was occupied by the work of Paul Heijnen. March 30th marked the reveal of his innovative folding, gallery wall system, which is to be used as an artefact for Backlit. Paul was approached for the project due to his “economic functionality between space, practicality and representation.” This is certainly apparent in his folding was system, which loosely yet effectively divided the large main room, creating a functional and versatile display space. The occasional addition of spotlights placed at the foot of the folding walls also added a new dimension to the work and the spaces it created.
At the opposite end of the studio lined corridor was the work of Leila Al-Yousuf. Occupying the project space (slightly smaller and more rectangular that the main room) her work consisted primarily of a roughly triangular, pink, metal structure which stretched between two opposing walls of the space, effectively cutting it in half. Beneath this structure the entire floor was covered in a grey sand substance, which we were encouraged to walk on in order to clamber under the suspended structure in the middle. Similarly to Heijnen’s, her work also encouraged us to enter the space and change our physical behaviour within it. Thus proved to be an interesting concept and physical experience, and one which provoked certain questions, such as why we as viewers are often so reluctant to touch and engage with art (at first we were hesitant to walk on the sand!) Is this how we have been conditioned to act in galleries, and if so, to what extent can the work of artists such as Al-Yousuf influence our behaviour?
Such innovative and clever use of space by Heijnen and Al-Yousuf really appealed to the Crop-Up team- the interactive quality of the work and the creation of a lasting experience is something we wish to emulate with our first exhibition. Also, the way in which the simple division of a large space by Heijnen encouraged the viewer to travel though the gallery towards the work of the other artists created an organic flow of both space and work- again something the Crop-Up team are keen to explore.
Backlit Gallery: http://backlit.org.uk/