- Anne Hardy born 1970
- 4 channel audio (surround), software, light, wind, carpet, vhs tape, concrete blocks, wood, fans, lamps, cast aluminium, cast iron, cast concrete, metal, branches, leaves, acrylic paint and chalk on paper, feathers, gas canisters and other materials
- Overall display dimensions variable
- Presented by the artist and Maureen Paley 2020
Anne Hardy’s Liquid Landscape 2019 is a large sculptural installation in which objects, light, colour and sound combine to produce an intensely sensory experience for the viewer. It is one of a number of sculptural environments, collectively titled ‘FIELD’ works, which Hardy has presented since 2013, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves physically in carefully constructed spaces of the type she routinely uses as the basis for her photographic works (see, for example, Cipher 2007 [Tate P82561] and Untitled VI 2005 [Tate P15084]). Hardy requests that people enter her FIELD works without shoes, to enable a more sensitive engagement with the environment. The viewer is encouraged to navigate a route through the disparate objects that make up Liquid Landscape. Bright orange carpet envelops the space, covering both the floor and walls. Tilting grid-like structures made of wood appear to sink into the ground, while various bare bulbs create pockets of glowing light. Some of the taller structures have cascades of fluttering, ribbon-like video tape suspended from them. A hand-blown glass shade over a bulb still has a molten quality. What appear to be slender branches and polystyrene packing chips are in fact cast in aluminium. Silver-coloured nitrous oxide canisters litter the floor. Sound is a significant sculptural component in this work; a programmed quadrophonic soundtrack loops over the course of just over ten minutes. In addition to this, the lighting system is programmed to vary in brightness multiple times over each ten-minute period. The intermittent sound of pouring rain as one navigates the space, together with the varying light conditions, makes one increasingly sensitive to the environment, where objects tilt, apparently teetering on the brink of collapse.
The point of departure for Hardy’s FIELD works is the city landscape, and especially the liminal spaces of East London where she lives and works. In an essay for the exhibition leaflet for the work’s showing at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, curator Nina Folkersma described the way in which Hardy:
approaches ‘the landscape of the city like a gigantic instrument’. She will fashion the collected sounds into a special audio score that will play in the work through a quadraphonic (4-channel) audio system, giving the sound a very precise spatial structure. The audio score and the lighting will be programmed such that visitors will get the feeling that the space around them is slowly changing – like an animated but unstable world that moves in time with them. Hardy describes her new FIELD work as a ‘sentient space’. “I want the work to give you the feeling that it is performing for you, and around you; that it is a sentient, poetic being with which you can spend time, but can never fully understand.”’
(Anne Hardy: Sensory Spaces, exhibition leaflet, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2018, pp.7–9.)
Working in her studio, Hardy builds the spaces depicted in photographs such as Cipher and Untitled VI over many months, using mostly found objects. The result of a labour-intensive process that involves building the structure of a space, then developing the interior details over time, Hardy’s rooms are constructed with the frame of a photographic lens in mind. When completed, the fabricated spaces are photographed and the structures themselves discarded. Hardy’s dense, enigmatic interiors become spaces the viewer can only explore with the imagination. The critic Helen Chang has described the speculation they generate in the viewer:
While devoid of people, as well as any clear identifiable purpose, they are full of objects that yield myriad narratives, as fantastical as they are forensically futile. The possible inhabitants of these spaces are momentarily away, or perhaps have deserted the place altogether: a costume-party-goer leaves a mask hanging on the door, karaoke lounge singers are waiting to sing, gymnasts are out celebrating a win. Their traces and detritus are arranged meticulously, to the point of disbelief, so painterly is their composition.
(Helen Chang, ‘Anne Hardy’, Frieze magazine, no.151, November–December 2012, https://frieze.com/article/anne-hardy, accessed 17 October 2019.)
In his essay ‘Two-dimensional Sculpture’, the curator Francesco Manacorda discussed how Hardy’s work involves a complex navigation through the conventions of signification in photography, painting and sculpture. He wrote:
Hardy’s photographs tend to bring the mechanical and representational apparatus of photography into the territories of painting. Akin to the tradition of figurative painting, the artist imagines and constructs an entire world in three-dimensions, taking into consideration the way light falls onto it, its colours, density and composition, all in front of the camera, completing the process by framing it. The ‘iconophiliac’ intention is nonetheless modulated by the constructed ambiguity that pervades all of Hardy’s photographs … Viewers are left to decide which marks to believe and how to read them while reading them. Like clues in a detective story, the scenarios in Hardy’s photographs are half-sentences, empty and contradictory. The task of decoding is made more difficult by the deliberate tensions towards a degree zero of indexicality. This operation attacking the truth claim of photography and our unquestioned visual literacy is paradoxically a sculptural one.
(Francesco Manacorda, ‘Two-dimensional Sculpture’, in File Note 58: Anne Hardy, exhibition catalogue, Camden Arts Centre, London 2011.)
Anne Hardy: Sensory Spaces, exhibition leaflet, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 2018.
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