Saturday, 15 May 2010

Filip Gilissen, Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca? @ Liverpool Biennial

I’ve always known that I was a primodial-magpie, but last night Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca? proved that everyone else is as well.

Part of Light Night and launching the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, the Artist Filip Gilissen's installation turned, for one night only, a ratty warehouse on New Bird Street into an idolatrous, shimmering exposition of Midas dreams.

My inherent love of gold overcame cynicism, and combined with my dorky ability to always be early, mean that I managed to stumble through the first half of the installation before queues formed.

The concepts behind the installation might be deceptively simple, but like most art that has moved me recently, it was a triumph of elemental ideas and well-executed all-encompassing practice.

Disorienting, magical, sinister and slightly erotic, like an artistic equivalent of a roller-coaster, the installation seemed to suspend sequential moments, so you become uncertain if many minutes or just a few seconds has passed.

The finale, later that evening, a highly anticipated yet miraculously unexpected explosion of dense, effervescent gold and smoke, was spellbinding. Magical, elemental and ominous, I felt like an oracle trying to discern ancient truths by gazing into the swirling smoke and glitter. Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca? begs an ancient, classical context in order to speak about it. Reactions in the crowd were rapturous and joyful. The sense of elation was palpable, and this was swiftly followed, once the shimmering plumes had died out, by an disorientated, artistic kind of post-orgasmic chill.

Like any art that utilises so fundamental devices and plucks antediluvian heart strings, it’s completely open to interpretation. To link this work too closely into it’s stated role as a tribute to Felix Gonzalez-Torres can only damage our experience of it by inviting comparison. I want to scream “step away from the explanation!” I for one want to keep the memories, barely comprehended, in my hind brain. An ecstatic eddy of gold is enough for me.

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