Friday, December 3, 2010

Shannon Scanlan’s The Blue Room by Debora Alanna

Shannon Scanlan’s The Blue Room, a sculptural installation at the 50/50 arts collective is not only about the implications of the colour blue. Nor is it only a vacancy, a basic dullish cerulean blue room that we enter. The gallery anteroom or main space becomes the preface to a story, until we chose to cross to the other side. Because Shannon challenges us, creates a narrative with a path to follow, a journey to undertake, a discovery to make.
We need to transverse and duck string strung across the width of the gallery, to follow the prescribed footpath she has demarked. Be in danger of distraction by blatant signage, an Albers-like 2-tone squared centre that encompasses an entire South wall, forcing our diversion from the final destination. If willing, we need to find a channel within the strung string, sectioned for relief or temporary repose. Become frustrated and free when we cross a river of string hung too low for consenting adults to cross without circumventing by stooping, lowering ourselves.
If you remember Antoin Pesvner and those mathematical cohorts of his, we can think of this pink string (pink for contrast in a blue room, the artist says) as a measurement of sorts. Pink is more than a contrast, however. The colour alludes to the pink Pop to come, measuring our tenacity and belief in our (Scanlan’s) narrative. Measuring our willingness to get to the other side. Measuring our compliance to follow a path or forge our own, without breaking the string barrier. Avoiding the trap of staying in the middle reprieve of a wider space between string strung and retreating.
So where are we after our odyssey? Stockholder curtaining brings us into an alcove. Bright with pink lighting and reflective paper cut into rectangular strips splash hot colour and contrast, We are brought to where there is a revelation, a self-discovery of a set of beliefs not quite formed, but felt, a threshold.
Our trek is not quite over. We need to navigate back (yes we must). No longer experiencing an arduous peregrination because we know where we have been, have accomplished tasks to arrive at the consequence of the yarn, we need to leave and reflect on the reflective. Shrewd, The Blue Room is a metaphor for lowered states that will adjunct to another, happier place, with persistence to reroute, even digress. You can see the happy place, but you cannot reach it without belief in your story.

Review by Debora Alanna   - Photos by  Rory Lambert

50/50 Art Collective
2516 Douglas St
Victoria BC
19 November – 8 December 2010

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