Anything that would make me cringe has been displayed at the Pump House Gallery by Czech sisters Pavla and Lucia Sceranková. In an attempt to materialize tension, they have used real objects, film and photography as their primary means. Through these scenarios, the artists have compiled situations which generate feelings sharing the same lexical field as irritation, impatience, and frustration.
Four limbs of a chair sit in jars filled with water, a map of the world is blurred out, two coffee mugs are about to overflow, and a wooden table has expanded and is about to burst. My favourite representation of tension within the exhibition would have to be the film, during which a chair is aggressively being drawn out by someone standing on the other side of a wall. While the door slams back each time the chair is being pulled, tension builds up within myself. I didn’t expect to be irritated by objects and visuals which were not affecting me personally. The work of the two sisters demonstrates our ability to become tense and show anger due to facts and events which are not directly happening to us.
Could this anger be hiding other feelings of a different nature? Surely the artists’ aim is to trigger an ordinary feeling which then launches an avalanche of other emotions. This process induces an inner introspection, and puts the viewer in a test position, in front of all these study cases which appear comical, harmless, and almost familiar at first. They resonate through their banality, but the chain of reactions they engender, convert them into complex reflections of ourselves. Some of us won’t be affected by it, others will find them effective. These settings build resistance within one’s body. They symbolize the lid which keeps the other feelings bottled up within. There is no right or wrong way to look and feel at the art of the Sceranková sisters, perhaps just staying still and feeling is already enough.
The accumulation of different scenes extends into the garden of the Battersea Park Pleasure Garden fountain. The fountain has been set up with orange flags raised on buoys. The floating objects are interconnected to one another by the spray of the fountain, the flow of the water, and the direction of the wind. This kinetic installation is summed up by the notion of attachment and detachment, the purpose of putting us in a state of confusion, causing tension, and testing our limits by pushing us over the edge. We have been asked to participate but we could have been detached from the experience. Feelings are more complex than we think they are. They seem to be less controllable than we force ourselves to believe.
Surface Tensions: Pavla and Lucia Sceranková at Pump House Gallery (12 April – 11 June 2017)