The odyssey of the yellow ribbon…

WAKE Week 4 - Carl von Weiler. Photo by Mara Minculescu

The odyssey of the yellow ribbon

By Mara Minculescu

What has become of the now famous yellow ribbon which Anne Bean introduced us to in the first week of WAKE? I cannot help but ask myself this question on each of my weekly visits to Dilston Grove and dream of different ways in which one could transpose their artistic visions or follies into reality through the use of this ribbon. Before the launch of this project, I tended to associate ribbon with the embellishment of a gift or a bunch of flowers, therefore assigning it with a mere decorative scope. But now with WAKE, I’ve come to discover the versatility of this material and its potential of being turned into really impactful creations, both visually and conceptually. All it takes is imagination and a dollop of craziness coupled with courage to experiment with different ideas.

So, as I entertain myself guessing the destiny of the ribbon with the curiosity of a child, I enter the forlorn, naked Dilston Grove in the 3rd week to find the same darkness that William Cobbing previously used as the canvas on which he brought forward his striking video works. David Cotterrell, the 3rd artist to inhabit the Grove, maintained this obscurity to create a striking contrast with his ribbon based composition. A stream of yellow water, an immense mass of smoothly undulating serpents, whatever he wanted it to represent, the installation had a curious transfixing and relaxing effect, while being awe-inspiring due to its big scale, with the ribbon filling the whole floor of the room. As I bathe my eyes into this sea of yellow, I utter an inevitable, but hushed “wow”.

The light projectors, placed on the wooden bars traversing the ceiling, served as the originating point of this apparent stream of liquid trickling down on the black electrical wiring to finally disperse itself into the mighty flow at the bottom.

In the frenzy of my picture taking and video recording, I turn my camera upside down to place the yellow “river” at the top of the frame and the image becomes eye-watering. It feels like standing under a ceiling covered with a soft piece of fabric which hides a swarm of restless living organisms on the verge of bursting out from their all-too-small, confining cradle. Odd.

Next week, Carl von Weiler brings light into the space and a streak of seriousness. As if saying “All right, enough with this ribbon pandemonium!”, he unveils the narrow, long windows of this ex-church, gathers the material into several black sacks and hangs them with ropes by the high wooden bars. He adamantly denies us any further attempts to play with the yellow “toy” by making it unreachable.

   

Taking an all-encompassing look at the whole room, these cocoons, which had been scattered throughout the interior in a seeming random pattern and at different heights, give a sense of three-dimensionality. By establishing a dialogue with the space, they help us gauge its true dimensions. Otherwise though, the work leaves me cold.

WAKE continues at Dilston Grove this weekend, as Rachel Lowe responds to what’s been left behind.

Images: WAKE weeks 3 & 4. Photos by Mara Minculescu.

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