In my last year of grad school I had the pleasure of designing the set for a play called Venus. It’s about a South African woman who was exhibited in a side-show setting, in England and France, in the early 19th century. We were interested in constructing different cages and framing devices (she was technically free, but most likely forcibly coerced). We made a human-sized birdcage from bent pipes, a proscenium from gold tassels, screens from burlap and gauze; all barriers that seem solid, but can be easily circumvented or broken.
Jeppe Hein constructs playful, interactive artistic experiences. Much of his work has a sense of humor about it, and is in fact about making people smile. However, as I spent some time looking through his website, I find his work speaking to me about barriers.
some are liquid;
some are solid but because they don’t obstruct the view they seem inconsequential;
some are so loose you can push them aside with a hand wave;
some are mirror, which seems transparent, but is in fact solid.
I especially like his use of mirrors. They can almost disappear into the landscape, but when the viewer approaches them they become apparent. Kind of like a lot of barriers in modern society. Most of the time you don’t even notice they are there.
From Hein’s wikipedia page:
Jeppe Hein is a Danish artist based in Berlin and Copenhagen. Hein is widely known for his production of experiential and interactive artworks that can be positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect. Notable in their formal simplicity and frequent use of humor, his sculptures and installations engage in a lively dialogue. Hein’s works often feature surprising and captivating elements which place spectators at the centre of events and focus on their experience and perception of the surrounding space.
All images are from Jeppe Hein’s website