press release

Pablo Bronstein, Carousel
03.05.2019 - 09.06.2019

An exhibition curated by Catherine Wood

Pablo Bronstein’s Carousel, takes the historic form of the zootrope—whose optical illusion creates rudimentary moving images—as a low-fi metaphor for the circus of mirrors and screens that makes for our contemporary interrelations. In this new commission for OGR Torino Bronstein considers the structures of physical reality—city planning and architecture, the theatre, and the human body—through the lens of the extreme close-up, self-regard—or narcissism—endemic to our post-iPhone universe.

Rather than critiquing the hyper-exaggerated reality of this 21st century Society of the Spectacle, Bronstein builds on the fertile foundations of its delusions and seductions. Through this installation, video and performance, he conjures—instead—a world of malevolent fairy-tale power and aesthetic possibility. Taking a new quasi-narrative direction, Bronstein imagines the Grey Witch: an enigmatic, neutral figure personifying the silver material behind a mirror’s glass that is invisible to us precisely because of its reflective properties, and is only ever revealed as a thin layer when the mirror is cut through, in cross-section. All-seeing, this figure remains, for us—however—mostly elusive and un-seeable, aside from her occasional, eruptive flash of presence via video screens.

A flimsily constructed sequence of implied performance "scenes" and audience positions in which a number of dancers, choreographed by Bronstein together with Rosalie Wahlfrid, enact looped iterations of folk and courtly ritual for visitors. These choreographies appear as exercises in the seduction and attractions of watching and being watched. The artist’s theatre-maze takes us, as visitors, on a journey from participatory dances to formal balletic spectacle and beyond, but via truncated gif-style repeats of movement that resemble the avatars who manifest symptomatic tics of an enthralled, networked contemporary attention span.

Bronstein’s Carousel propels his viewers into a ceaseless cycle of moving, and looking and being looked at, all the while underwritten by the static threat of the Grey Witch unmoving all-seeing eye.

The site-specific project commissioned by OGR continues in the baroque Music Room of the Ospedaletto Complex in Venice (May 7-November 24), during the 58th Venice Biennale.

The Venice iteration of Carousel is smaller in scale, but condensed in significance. It functions as the equivalent of the 17th century King’s bedroom (an apparently private place, but in fact the centre of ritual courtly life) in relation to the piazzas, theatres and circus of the OGR maze. The exhibition is imagined as a private chamber into which visitors are invited, but held at a certain distance from the image that is created.

In this piece, we meet a figure with a red-painted face, played by Bronstein himself, whose ability to see, and move exceeds the rules and parameters of the mirror-inflected city world. Both driving force and disruptor, suggesting devilry or desire, Bronstein’s red made-up mask appears as a counterpoint to the cool surveillance of the Grey Witch and he occasionally enters the main space of performance to interrupt the ritual loops of danced movement.

The relationship between historical architecture, mirrors, digital screens and dancers in Bronstein’s looped and repeated live installation summons a fictional territory that initiates trans-historical flow, opens up wormholes and leaps of imagination, and speaks to questions about how to inventively inhabit the constrictions of the space, time and image of the present.

OGR - Officine Grandi Riparazioni is a cultural hub stretching over 20,000 square meters and providing exceptional experiences in a range of art forms. Since opening its doors in Turin, Italy, on September 2017, OGR has attracted world-class artists and performers to create an international programme and to develop outstanding new works. To date OGR has commissioned exhibitions and site-specific projects by William Kentridge, Liam Gillick, Tino Sehgal, Susan Hiller, and Mike Nelson, among many others, as well as shows by Kraftwerk, New Order, Jason Moran, Jeff Mills, and The Chemical Brothers.