Friday, 20 August 2010

Laura Belém's The Temple of 1000 Bells @ The Oratory

If I needed reminding - and I don’t! - that it’s less than a month till the 6th Liverpool Biennial, last night was a special preview of Laura Belém's The Temple of 1000 Bells at the Oratory.

The Oratory is the small, square, classically-pillared building down from the front of the Anglican Cathedral. I've always thought that there is something restrained but slightly distorted about 19th Century funerary sculpture, and the light coloured but monumental stone of the sculpture counterpoints Laura Belém's incorporeal installation.

The sight of a thousand individually created glass bells hanging in the central light well is both beautiful and intriguing. It’s everything it promises, a diaphanous suspended layer of glass objects, each in the same form but each visibly distinctive. Quite simply, The Temple of 1000 Bells is lovely to behold.

If only it had been left as that! A simple and arresting installation with an evocative title would have been much preferable to final form of The Temple of 1000 Bells. From speakers around the room emanates a voice, telling a story in that overly earnest, childrens’-programme-on-Radio-4 type manner. Accompanied by some half-arsed hippy, hypno-meditation type music, it's unbearably twee. Seriously peoples, “a symphony which cannot be described in words” is not audibly conjured up by a few plinks on a bloody xylophone!

Hmmm...  the only option seems to be to recommend ear plugs.

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