Anthony McCall’s eerie ‘solid-light’ installations are illuminating Barcelona’s new contemporary arts space, Fundació Gaspar.
Since the early 1970s when McCall first began exhibiting, he has deftly manoeuvred between mediums – drawing, sculpture, film and performance – exploring the perceptual limits of cinema through its basic components of space and light.
But, aside from the technical elements of his practice, what emerges in his works is an otherworldly quality and his mastery over architectural space.
His latest exhibition, Solid Light, Performance and Public Works, is housed on the second floor of the foundation, a 15th-century Gothic palace once home to the mercantile elite. A flight of well-worn steps leads to a maze of whitewashed rooms, with their subtle medieval features preserved. McCall’s work plays with their scale and detailing.
‘Each work is site sensitive,’ he says. ‘[The exhibition space] becomes part of the jigsaw puzzle. It’s like chess pieces; you are moving the possibilities of the work within the space to find out what makes sense, and also what suits the narrative.’
At the crux of the exhibition is ‘Coming About, 2016’, the first of a new series of McCall’s solid light installations. Radiating within the darkened space, 3D arcs of white light slant diagonally, casting a pair of 2D animated projections on the gallery floor. Over the course of 20 minutes, they slowly encounter one another to form an elegant architectural gesture – a signature of McCall’s work he calls a ‘footprint’.
As the blades of light carve up the space, spectators are divided; either passing through the planes as abstract silhouettes or becoming corralled into an enclosure.
McCall thinks about architectural space in terms of the body, and the way the body interacts (or performs) within his work. The spectator becomes a part of his pieces, treating his installations as they ‘might treat a tent or a building’, he explains. The works become ‘spaces to occupy’.