Ruth Barker

The Horizon Bringeth... And The Horizon Taketh Away

2005

 

“Its power is immense, for the similitudes of which it treats are not the visible, substantial ones between things themselves; they need only be more subtle resemblances of relations. Disencumbered thus, it can extend from a single given point, to an endless number of relationships. For example, the relation of stars to the sky in which they shine may also be found: between plants and the earth, between living things and the globe, and between diamonds and the rocks in which they are buried.”

                                                                                                                          Michel Foucault; The Order of Things

 

“The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. I looked the place over. You can’t tell anything about an outfit like that. They might be making millions, and hey might have the sheriff in the back room, with his chair against the safe.”

                                                                                                                  Raymond Chandler; The Lady in the Lake.

 

 

Hennessy’s work in ‘title’ re-orientates her investigation of line and space within an encompassing, complex installation. A series of objects fix themselves mutely within a windowless room, acutely aware of one another’s presence. The viewer becomes a player denied a script. A single black wall seems a backcloth to our surmises, framing the blank stares of the work before it. The objects are obtuse in their monochrome conversationality; one must approach them from the side.

 

The artist has tied black electrical cable between the two pillars of the space, dividing the gallery in two. An overhead projector positioned on one side of the room shines a cutting beam of bright white light against the cable ‘barrier’, hitting it at a broad right angle. The stark illumination crosses the space like a physical object, forcefully casting the black shadow-lines of the wire onto the black screen of the wall behind. En route, the beam fully floods over the angular form of a wooden stepladder poised in the centre of the space. Linked pools of orchestrated illumination are draped over it dilapidated, scarred surface rendering by turns highly defined or sunk in shadow, and oddly architectural in its ‘found object’ status. The clear blast from the OHP similarly paints the awkward jutting form of the ladder into a blind silhouette on the black wall behind. The outline perhaps recalls the infamous Hiroshima image documenting the horrifically recognisable outline of a figure with ladder burnt onto brick by the obliterating force of the atomic blast. Here, however, as throughout the installation, Hennessy purposefully denies the figure any place within the atmospheric space she manipulates. Instead a series of tense relationships activate the spaces between objects that we see in lieu: a matt black torch lies propped head down against the base of a wall. A mirror attached to the torch’s body intercepts its beam to gauchely deflect both the light and its image in a new and inexplicable yet faintly suspect angle. Elsewhere a black bin-bag seems charged and inflated by some furtive static electric means. The bag hangs inflated and erect although ill at ease in its self conscious attempt to defy gravity. Anchored to the floor by slim cable-ties and clips, it drifts slightly as if moved by a breeze stirred by passing interest.

 

Hennessy’s work may anchor around the notional investigation of ‘the line’ within these bleak gallery landscapes, but here there is a very real sense of the Hitchcockian in her analysis. The confidently restrained elements in ‘The Horizon Taketh...’ hang together like the thick skinned clues of some insoluble conceptual mystery.