Thursday, 14 March 2013


We had a new exhibition open at the gallery last night – an installation by the American artist Pae White. I’m a bit smitten.

Pae White, Too much night, again, 2013. South London Gallery
I’ve been looking forward to this show for months – even before I knew what it would entail I was looking forward to it; my enthusiasm for her work based entirely on the very little of it I’d seen previously, at Munster in 2007 and in Venice in 2009. That’s how compelling it is. I was going to say charming, but charming has shades of the derivative to it and this is anything but. But it is definitely charming – in the ‘by charming you mean mesmerising’ kind of way.

The work, Too much night, again, was made in response to the specificities of the gallery's grand Victorian space but was inspired by the anxiety and insomnia that the commission brought on, and by the night terrors that reminded White of her childhood spent scared of heavy metal music, particularly the Black Sabbath albums she had stored under her bed.

Watching the work come together over the two week installation was spell-binding; this slow, meditative choreography of yarn - 48 kilometres of it - that was painstakingly strung through 4000 screws in what proved to be an epic gesture of orchestral proportions.

The result is an immersive, dazzling, optical illusion, something to walk under, gaze through and just experience. It's not necessarily obtuse, it's just architecturally and aesthetically impressive. It makes heading for the kitchen to get a cup of tea an adventure. 

I actually got to meet Pae herself, briefly, in the afternoon for a short film we’re making about the installation. Then I got to go to her talk and then I got to have glasses of wine with friends at the private view. 

There are some part of my job that I absolutely adore and all of this? This is up there with the best of it.

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