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24 November 2011

By Trish Wheatley

Currently showing at Salisbury Arts Centre is The View From Here, an exhibition featuring works by Martin Bruch, Juan delGado, Aidan Moesby and an intervention by local artist and DAO blogger Gini. This exhibition is part of the Re-Imagining Exhibitions programme, which is exploring the presentation of contemporary visual art “in new and exciting ways… as an equal and interwoven partner with performing arts, and film programmes”.

As a regular to this venue I was immediately impressed with the use of space in this show, by far one of the most successful I have seen. Bruch’s best-known work, Bruchlandungen (Crash Landings), originally exhibited at the 49th Venice Biennale, dominates the entrance creating a geometric pattern that accentuates the sense of perspective within the gallery. The work comprises of 312 photographs with times and dates taken by Bruch between 1996 and 2001 and is described by the artist as the “subjective photograph immediately after the fall” (from the wheelchair). Pedestrian audience members are invited to experience the work at the height it is intended to be viewed by navigating the space using the wheelchair provided.

For me, it was Bruch’s video work home.movie that was most successful. The viewer is taken on a journey through the artist’s apartment; the soundtrack of mobility equipment features prominently, becoming more apparent and louder as the film continues. I was not surprised to learn that Bruch is a trained sound engineer as the sound was so instrumental in creating meaning for the piece. The piece featured a whole host of sounds including the whir of the ceiling hoist, the automatic door opening and closing and hands maneuvering a manual wheelchair accompanied by jazz music.

It triggered thoughts about how my own individual 'soundtrack' is characterised by the assistive equipment my friends and colleagues use in everyday life. I have come to know those people through the sounds they make as they move around spaces, just as one can often recognize the footsteps of an individual. This allowed me to interpret the piece as a frank look at difference in a non-judgemental, matter-of-fact way that disabled people often talk about as being important.

Moesby and delGado’s works were less prominent in the space and require a second visit, particularly in day light for Moesby’s site-specific piece Triptych (IV) which uses the stained glass windows of this former church. What really made the exhibition come alive was the presence of Gini, artist and wordsmith, who invited me to engage in a dialogue about the work. It was a performance, an interview and a welcome experience and eventually, hopefully it will become part of an artwork.

Gini was able to make me consider the work in a different way and she competently talked about the works that were there, offering her own thoughts as well as allowing me to develop my own opinions. This exhibition encounter was an extremely successful and innovative way in which to engage the audience in direct dialogue with an artist whilst getting valuable visitor feedback in a creative way.

The View From Here is on at Salisbury Arts Centre until 23 December 2011

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