The Barriers We Construct

Posted by on March 25, 2014

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;

Encircle 2013 Permanent installation at Place Lapérouse, Albi, France

Hide and See(k) 2013 Permanent installation at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hide and See(k) 2013
Permanent installation at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Spaces Between Trees and People 2013 Permanent installation at Munich-Pasing, D

Spaces Between Trees and People 2013
Permanent installation at Munich-Pasing, D

Water Island Morsbroich 2010 Permanent installation at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkursen, D

Water Island Morsbroich 2010
Permanent installation at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkursen, D

some are solid but because they don’t obstruct the view they seem inconsequential;

Cage and Mirror 2013 Wanås Konst , Knislinge, Sweden  Exhibition

Cage and Mirror 2013
Wanås Konst , Knislinge, Sweden
Exhibition

Cage and Mirror 2013 Wanås Konst , Knislinge, Sweden  Exhibition

Cage and Mirror 2013
Wanås Konst , Knislinge, Sweden
Exhibition

some are so loose you can push them aside with a hand wave;

Light Pavilion 2009 Hello? Shall I call you back?, Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels, B

Light Pavilion 2009
Hello? Shall I call you back?, Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels, B

Light Pavilion 2009 Hello? Shall I call you back?, Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels, B

Light Pavilion 2009
Hello? Shall I call you back?, Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels, B

some are mirror, which seems transparent, but is in fact solid.

Semicircular Mirror Labyrinth 2013  Permanent installation at Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Semicircular Mirror Labyrinth 2013
Permanent installation at Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Semicircular Mirror Labyrinth 2013  Permanent installation at Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Semicircular Mirror Labyrinth 2013
Permanent installation at Ordrupgaard, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Follow Me Bristol 2009 Permanent installation at Bristol University, UK

Follow Me Bristol 2009
Permanent installation at Bristol University, UK

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

via Yellowtrace

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