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The Bunker Show, 24-26 Oct 2008

The Bunker Show (24-26 Oct 2008) was a site specific installation of photographic and text based work: You And I In Flux (2006-2007), I Used To Skate On Frozen Lakes (2008), and Conversations (2008).  The installation, commissioned by This Is Not A Gateway Festival, took place in a late 1930s underground bunker in the East End, London.   The photographic prints were wallpapered directly onto the walls of totally dark, wet labyrinth of chambers and corridors.  Visitors, armed with candles or torches as their only source of light, were forced to negotiate the space, scanning the walls in order to find portraits and landscapes hidden within the disorientating space.  The intensity of the Bunker Show turned this installation of work (previously shown in a white walled gallery spaces) into a unique experience that became a site specific work within its own right.  The visitors entering the space had to overcome the primal fear of darkness, with a paradoxical experience of an isolation and participating in a collective experience taking place simultaneously, as the other visitors’ presence could only be imagined, felt, or heard rather then seen.  The specificity of connotations of the bunker itself combined with the evoked sensations of fear, curiosity, excitement, apprehension, surprise, self-awareness, and the need to negotiate an unfamiliar territory, highlighted the questions about notions of home, formation of contemporary identity, and migrant experience contained within the bodies of work.

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Visitors’ Book (selected comments):

The most intense experience of art I’ve ever had!   The darkness was scary at first, but finding the images made me feel safe again. Their existence brought me in and out of an anxiety of being in darkness. At first I was nervous because I couldn’t see very well.  But once armed with a stronger torch I felt more confident and appreciated the stillness and especially the freedom from electronic pollution. Catherine B.

It’s the setting supposed to be like this – to be both scary and peaceful?  Juxtaposition therefore creating a state of flux?  Anonymous

At first I felt reluctant, then strangely felt free, losing inhibitions and inspired by lack of light.  Anonymous

I was not expecting such a labyrinth of rooms down there, I found myself getting lost inside my own head. Anonymous

Being alone with the sound of water, entering the darkness, the light picks out an image that seems to emerge out of the dark, and then as you walk away the image begins to fade like snapshots of memory, the space itself is very mysterious, brutally functional and yet in praise, is left unknown to the visitor.  Matthew Gandy

Incredible – very disturbing.  I am sure I’ll dream of it tonight!  Berry C.

Uneasy.  Lewis E.

At the beginning I felt scared.  I didn’t know what to expect.  As I was discovering the space and the pictures I thought it was a strange but relaxing experience.  Thank you.  Angele.

Interesting to see the work in such a mad context!  Laura

Extraordinary.  J.

Never seen anything like that before.  Giullia

 How mysterious to place these people’s stories into this site full of history.  Makes you connect the images with Dalston’s history.  Clashing, exciting, impressive!  Thanks.  Nelly

Speechless. Nora.

Very intense and deep experience.  The combination of darkness and images was amazing. Anonymous

Harrowing. Anonymous

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