Heather B. Swann
To actually freely visit a show again, namely Heather B. Swann’s, ‘Feeler’ we can embrace the luxury of looking again. We can remind ourselves the viewer is granted the utmost indulgence when visiting a gallery.
‘We can remind ourselves the viewer is granted the utmost indulgence when visiting a gallery.’
I’d like to even predict the words Charles Baudelaire provocatively declared, that sculpture was ‘tiresome… as it exhibited too many surfaces at once’, would today be rebuked had he experienced life amid Covid-19 or the overwhelming online exhibition world. As to experience Swann’s sculptures in the flesh, in particular ‘Peripherique’ we are granted luxurious freedom, not boredom, to take charge away from the artist, to choose a hundred different points of view as we move around gloriously discombobulated. Under, over, between, above, below, all possibilities, all inviting multiple perspectives and questioning. Was this piece borne from a mythical fever dream with its tumble weed sensibility and antennae appendage protruding from the eye cavity? Is the surface intentionally dematerialised as it is encased within a glowing non-colour surface?
And, to glance around Swann’s show the intrigue doesn’t just hover over her immaculately crafted sculptures. Her drawings also punch you in the face with their mostly suprematist colour palette of red-black-white. Instantly stomping a flash of Malevich, but then with a delicate closer inspection we see whispers of Bourgeois by the intricate tendril fingers, or the whimsical leggy typography and embedded text ‘I thought about you twice, nothing else’, can easily hint towards Emin’s poetic prose.
Heather B. Swann’s show reminds us why we need to be attending galleries again. Her intimate pieces move us away from screen scanning to instead trigger real emotions and fond art history moments enabling a sensory viewing experience. One that a virtual viewing can’t yet match.