steely gaze

Relatum-Stage (2018) is an outdoor commission at the Serpentine Gallery, London. It is the latest work in South Korean born artist Lee Ufan’s Relatum series, begun in the 1960s. Each work is a composition using the same two materials, steel and stone. Here two rocks, one large one small, are placed either side of an angled steel plate. The interest lies in the viewer’s interaction with the mirror-polished stainless steel, and its reflections. The viewer either sees herself centre stage against the backdrop of trees, or, as if from the wings, watches the dynamic play of people moving through the park. Who is watching who?

Relatum-Stage is at the Serpentine until 27 Jan 2019

peritropes in the peleponnese

97FC7A7A-7FA6-410F-9C08-AEFF64813C9ACFCC3D20-CC45-4528-B878-17A291D292C3The suspended cones of Voula Gounela’s installation in an upper room of the fortified hill fort, rotate gently in the slight breeze. It’s 33 degrees, a hot June day in the ‘old town’ of Kardamyli in the Mani, South Peleponnese, and the sound of cicadas surges over the battlements as we explore the clustered masonry buildings of this recently restored heritage site. Gounela’s title “peritropes” means ‘turning around’ or ‘revolution’ in Ancient Greek. In Hellenistic Greek it meant turning an opponent’s arguments against himself or herself. The cones are of three materials, aluminium, thick paper and glazed ceramic. The thick paper appears to be imprinted from the inscribed outer surface of the aluminium. The curved aluminium surface seems to attract and reflect the little light in the room. You feel the weight of the dark glazed clay cones. One of these has made contact with the floor, like the seabed, as the others, fish-like, turn and shimmer in the gloom.

The renovation and fitout of these buildings cost £1.5 million Euros, mostly EU funded. The restoration has mostly been done with care, though use of cement mortar rather than lime in places is surprising. A permanent exhibition tells the story of the settlement’s history, and illustrates other structures such as small stepped quarries, olive presses and water cisterns that were an integral part of surviving in this challenging landscape.