Red Shift 1967–84
With Red Shift, Meireles takes us into a disorientating all-red world. The first part of this installation is Impregnation, a domestic environment where everything is red, from the clothes in the wardrobe to the contents of the refrigerator. Meireles describes the initial concept for the work as imagining ‘a place in which someone, for some reason – whether due to preference, mania, imposition or circumstance – would accumulate in a given place the greatest possible number of objects in different shades of red.’
The Portuguese title of the second part of this work is Entorno, a word that means both ‘spill’ and ‘environment’. A tiny bottle appears to have spilled its red liquid contents, an impossibly large volume compared to the bottle’s size. Continuing into the darkened space of the third part of the work, Shift, we see a precariously angled sink that seems to float in space. The red liquid running from the tap provides a disconcerting soundtrack.
Guy Brett has suggested that Meireles’s work often touches upon ‘an unresolved question as to what constitutes the ‘human scale’ in relation to the vastly expanded sense of space and time which has come with modern scientific discoveries’. The title of Red Shift refers to a cosmological phenomenon: light that travels to Earth from distant galaxies gets stretched because the space that it passes through is expanding, a process that is believed to have started with the Big Bang.