Years, 'Huis Clos'
It can be said that
Louisa Minkin’s ‘Huis
Clos’ is a work, in the active sense, that it is still
at work despite its exhibition having already taken place.
Huis Clos has three stages:
An event is videoed. Across the corner of a room a rectilinear
shape has been masked. Into the left of the frame enters a figure who
is entirely clothed in a skin-tight blue screen suit, even covering
the head, the feet and the hands of the person. The figure starts
a compressor, takes up a spray gun and sprays blue the masked out shape.
The blue is identical to the blue of suit of the shape’s maker. As
blue takes hold of the shape the figure begins to correspond to its
In the room the blue shape has been unmasked. It is clear now that
the shape has another, open rectilinear shape within it. There
is also the sense that these shapes are anamorphic , that they take
on distinct qualities when viewed from a particular position. The
room now has become a gallery, people are viewing the work but the
work exhibited is not only the blue wall painting.
Two flat screen monitors are also present. One shows the video
of the blue shapes making, the other shows a live feed of the image
of the gallery visitors, framed, within the blue shape and, in turn,
the screen of the monitor.
The third phase is the projects documentation, as video, photo and
These phases are not simply steps along the way to staging the spectator
The screen suit and the blue shape can be read as an absorptive structure.
As Minkin says in Huis Clos’ accompanying text
“The actions of the blue figure are the opposite of camouflage, rather
than adapt to its back ground, it alters its background in order to naturalise
whether this act is one where the blue figure ‘naturalise(s)
itself’ is perhaps debatable but perhaps the question that arises
is rather one of an identification and a merging of figure and ground
in the blue shape’s making which in turn brings into focus such
things as the death of the author and the monochrome as forms of both
the maker and the cultural form. This figure/ground relationship
is then displaced through the blue shape wall painting exhibition. Here
is shown both the wall painting’s production and what it produces
through its exhibition and its reconfiguration via the live feed. There
is a sense here that the literal topos of the space is one of a passage
between the making and the reception that in turn is subject to an
immanent quality of the stages combined as a working of the ground
and as a series of displacements, reversals (and situations).
The framing of the gallery
visitor fore-grounded before the blue shape places them in sharp
contrast, differentiated from the ground, which in turn is in sharp
contrast to the assimilation of figure/maker and ground in the works
initial phase. The realm of the pictorial
is what is felt to be at work here. The creation of a structure
that differentiates, distinguishes and positions where as in its inception
it assimilates, maybe even estranges itself; merges with its actions.
The potential of the productive logic of this work is heightened by
the fact that the screen suit and the blue ground can be used to key
in other grounds. The blue screen’s maker can disappear
or repeat itself. The beholder in the final phase can be keyed
in with alternative grounds. The displacements and divisions
at work here seem to endlessly fold in on themselves as one moves between
the re-transcriptions; the role of the blue shape is transformed according
to the agency of the figure and the relationship to medium. The
result seems to be a complex object where contexts of production, reception
and the consumption of the piece ‘as’ image transform
familiar ideas of figure and ground as facedness or absorption and
theatricality into a kaleidoscope of relations, endlessly turning.