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Vertical ribbons installed on wall as artwork
Vertical ribbons installed on wall as artwork

Eva Lewitt, exhibition view, VI,VII, Oslo, 2018. Courtesy: VI,VII, Oslo; photograph: Christian Tunge

The artist investigates tensions between the sturdy and the fragile, and the public and the private at VI,VII, Oslo

I am no interior design expert, but from what I gather, the purpose of curtains is to divide one space from another. If curtains are closed, Gaston Bachelard once noted, they hide an inside from an outside. In a sense, they safeguard it, keeping out the cold, a draft, smells, sounds, stares. Yet curtains also deprive a space from its correlate. What is cosy for some may well be claustrophobic for others. Once opened, they reveal the two to one another.

Curtains are both moveable and mutating objects: they are moved from one side to the other, in the process folding and unfolding. As such, they are not normally a room’s centrepiece. As Edgar Allan Poe puts it in ‘The Philosophy of Furniture’ (1840): they are ancillary, secondary; ‘they should be chosen based on the general character of the room.’ For all the pleasant appeal of palette and form, Eva LeWitt’s show at VI,VII expresses a surprisingly radical statement, in this respect. The artist has installed 13 semi-transparent panels (‘Untitled’, 2018), against the gallery’s existing blank and marble walls, each made from handmade square and round polyurethane sponges and strips of industrial latex and plastic, each resembling a curtain. The panels overlap to the point that it is near-impossible to distinguish where one ends and the other begins, like an assemblage or a modular piece of design. The square sponges, pastel-tinted and marbled like the walls, are fixed in a straight line just below the ceiling. The round ones, more starkly and uniformly coloured, hang at the bottom wrapped in the plastic strips, at once weighing the latter down and maintaining the works’ light, open vertical structures. As the gallerist informed me, to remove one of these circular sponges – they aren’t fixed – would make the whole thing collapse: the plastic strips would stick together, destabilizing the work’s balancing act with gravity, pulling each of the individual configurations out of shape.

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