A SHIMMER of confusion trembles from “P4’s” sphere-pixilated circles: each spanning over a metre with a deep, swirling world; its pull dramatically orthogonal to the unforgiving neutrality of its host white wall, through which it affords a perception-widening, energy-funnelling conduit to the invisible next step.
I am sitting with Anne Paillardiz, at the window bar of a Hoxton gallery, one week after the launch of her installation, P4, at “504”, in Bow. She watches my every question grow from mind to utterance with the easy alertness of an artist wholly intent on thoughts that resonate, and unhampered by time-delaying reserve.
She exudes a wry, yet happy, wisdom, and — as we know — a graphically-immersive multimedia expression of it.
What had been her original idea, behind P4?
It had stemmed from a “strange relationship with a guy”: “Did he like her? Was he playing?”.
She had been stuck in a confused loop, and had wanted to express that paralysis — but to do so generally, as a therapeutic, analytically schematic route map for all, without making it personal to her instance of a common experience.
She had been fascinated by the circularity of emotional confusion, as brief escape attempts alternated with yet more failed effort at making a connection work; creating the self-esteem corrosion of identical, repeated, failures — hence the myriad, psychedelically sliding ping-pong pixels: individually, escapable hamster-wheel cells; together, a hypnotic, collaboratively distracting gang — in a sculpture of confusion’s mesmeric ability to make elusive liberation still harder to reach.
The shifting orbits — each around emotionally gravitating entrapment — balloon from single ball, to intra-frame group, to entire frame; a fractalesque expression of loops’ exhausting, circumferical, scalar expansion across the hopeless vectorial nihilism of growing, yet useless, round trips.
P4’s intuitive accessibility sublimates from deep, graphical logic. It carries mathematical philosophy to the social realm; charting fizzing fatigue with palpable formulae.
Its easily navigable symbolism invites us into our own minds, as, frame by frame, kaleidoscopic bubbles escape the 4 circles (2 black and 2 white, complementary colours showing parallel prisons of oppressor and oppressed).
Anne has sculpted the perceptual, source-code of inertia – and its decay.
Geometry is emotional: being lost in a city gets worse when, after an hour’s searching for somewhere, we end up back where we started.
Conversely, net movement pleases us — especially if it is away from the Earth’s centre, firing our nerves with the hardwired, scripture-moulding high of overcoming gravity: our invisible, kinematic parent, and oppressor; and an analogy to the familiarity-glued cling of entrenched and negative social ties — whether these bind us to a job, a social circle, or a relationship.
P4 defies bully-gravity.
French wit is earthily simple. And orbital prisons are optional: if you want to go, go!
As, frame by frame, the balls vanish, the fizzing warp chills to a clear null. Emptiness is heavy, and it requires effort to re-start from scratch.
“The first one is full of circles,” Anne says, enthusiastically. Her self-therapy now complete, she seems to take pleasure in the painful, early drama.
“The end is the weak one. I hate the one that is almost empty… It just doesn’t work, it looks so crap.”
But the therapeutic, general solution of the concept works very, very well. I wonder if she is mathematical?
“I am a literary person, not mathematical.”
I believe that possibly, like many great communicators, she is both. Her architect’s empathy comes through: “It is spatially interactive: a world in which people have control.”
“Part of its purpose is to make people feel in control: to see how simple life is, and how simple choices can be — if only one is strong enough to take them”.
She wants to help the struggling avoid “the pity look”: real art therapy.
Inspired by Marika Mori’s reincarnation-themed circles, when Anne got the idea, “her body wanted to do it”: a telekinetic precipitation from thought, to action, to production — and escape?
“Doing the installation has fixed me. I want people to feel invited in, to feel the inside. It expands.”
“Maybe I will make the same mistake again”, she says blithely — easy, in her new-found control.
Naturally, she likes constructing things. Circles are endless. But the Right Angles of the square exhibition room are boundaries, awaking the mind from autopilot. P4 is sculpted, consciousness-raising therapy, with intense, immersive impact.
The still room and open door carry the comic obviousness of a life coach’s escape solution. And, as with the lifecoach, it is P4’s enveloping presence, as much as analysis, which makes the therapy fly.
As the haunting pop-song tells us, when she “found love in a hopeless place”, Rihanna “shone a light through an open door”.
At critical moments, people often decide not to pass through an opening — despite their wanting to be on the other side. The brain wants to repeat circles: yearning for other loops’ greener grass, yet still trying the same one, one more time, with a forgetful, futile hope; one which humours regressive guilt over stifled anger — inflaming it to rage.
“Many are afraid to go to museums because they feel low culture”.
But Anne’s installation is a lifesized playground — freed by control, and flipping victims into empowered therapists, as bubbles of fog swirl to leave a heady calm.
Choice is activated as laughably simple, and reassuringly immersive: an installed womb, in which we have the courage to believe the truth — and play with it.
Photo at top: the artist, Anne, surveys her work.
Jonathan Graham for TruthExcites.com