Light, plain or with colour?

November 23, 2013

In the Deer Shelter Skyspace the light is managed, presented, controlled and purified.  We see a slice of the natural sky, sometimes a square of light on the wall and hardly realise how different that experience is from our casual immersion in the wide sky all over us.  But we then become attached to this limited blue shining square and start to think that all Turrell’s Skypaces are like this, and if they are not they should be.  How foolish.

Viewed from Yorkshire one thinks that the grey white and blue combination is Turrell’s characteristic creation.  The Skyspace at Kijkduin  would confirm that. It shares the maritime sky of the North Sea but the structure is different. There’s a hollow in the ground, approached through a tunnel, with a tomb like resting place for seeing, or not seeing.IMG_1749 Kijkduin skull


However, viewed worldwide, characteristic colours in Turrell’s work are the luminous overlaps as primary colours merge, glowing pinks, purples, indigos, green and acid yellow, turquoise, aqua….   washing over, immersing, fading and swelling to intensity.

The  plain blue indigo Ganzfeld installation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2006 has more complex relatives in other places, such as the Bridget’s Bardo installation in Wolfsburg in 2010.  This was very heavily organised. Viewers were allowed in, shod in blue plastic overshoes, for a limited period. No photography was allowed, and no sitting down (not that there was anything to sit on, but I tried.)  We went several times in the two days we were there and were beginning to strongly resent the attentions of the guards.  But one evening we were there about 6 o’clock.  The other tourists had gone in search of their supper and the time pressure was relaxed. Into this strolled a mother and son, on their way home from school and work, laden with book bags and kit and shopping.  They sat down on the floor, as if they did this every evening, let the bags slide down beside them, leaned against each other and gazed at the slowly swishing colour.  After ten minutes without reproof, they got up and went.  That little lump of wonderment had left no mark on the white floor.  You can see more about Bridget’s Bardo by clicking here.

Ah, but, you say and as I too thought, that’s another bit of Turrell’s output, not like the plain cool Skyspaces.  No, foolish, all Skyspaces are not plain and cool, some are much warmer and colourful.  Have a look at this in Australia.  Scroll down to see the video on the page.

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