Esther Schipper is pleased to announce Daniel Steegmann Mangrané's second solo exhibition with the gallery. Entitled Fog Dog, the exhibition includes architectural light interventions, a sound installation and a new film.
A two-part light intervention greets the visitor upon entering the exhibition. Lit entirely by natural light, angled dividing walls transform the space into a series of connecting rooms. A large triangular opening in the ceiling and a head-high funnel-shaped construction narrowing toward an aperture fundamentally alter the experience of the space, controlling and shaping the entering light. The works evoke a long tradition of encounters with natural light, drawing attention to the subjectivity of perception and its metaphorical associations.
A second rectangular construction in the back of the gallery opens into an adjoining room, funnelling the light to create a diffuse brightness, apparition-like. While the rectangular openings recall the windows found in ecclesiastic architecture and its tradition of controlling light (e.g. as marker of the divine), yet also obliquely refer to the work of 20th century light & space artists constructing environments to shape light.
The visual experience—perhaps synaesthetically felt as tactility of light as well—is augmented by the artist's introduction of a sound-based work: the floor of the exhibition space is covered with fine gravel, giving an unexpected feeling and sound to the visitor's gait, as a series of human and animal steps can be heard moving closer and further away again in irregular intervals. For the visitor these disembodied sounds may take on a ghostly quality—suggesting the presence of others, no longer or not yet visible.
In the largest semi-enclosed room created by the divisions of the space, Steegmann Mangrané's new film, Fog Dog, will be screened. Premiered in early February at the Dhaka Art Summit 2020, Fog Dog is the artist's first foray into cinematic storytelling. It takes as point of departure the curious interaction of human and non-human inhabitants of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka, documenting the daily life of the school and and the numerous stray dogs that live there and seem to lead a parallel existence.
Designed by architect and pioneer of Bangladeshi modernism Muzharul Islam (1923–2012) and characterised by an open structure—open colonnades, free-standing staircases, ceramic jalousies, and wooden screens allow for an interweaving of interior and exterior—the building is both stage and protagonist of the film. Boundaries between inside and outside, building and surrounding gardens, institutional and public spaces seem fluid. The ambient noises of the tropical landscape and the urban environment mingle, creating a richly evocative sonic landscape.
Drawing on the inextricable entanglement of traces of the past and prospects of the future in today's realities, conversations about the lasting consequences of the colonial past and a TV report on the effects of climate change are woven into the daily lives we encounter, as the film settles in on the routine of the school's nightwatchman. During the night the building is visited by a ghostly presence—a phantom that will not seem out of place and continues to haunt its guardian even after daybreak.
Both the film Fog Dog, with its ample portrait of a world beyond human modes of existence, and the exhibition as a whole with its heightened awareness of light, sound, and tactility, created through the architectural interventions and sound installation, seek to address how human perception makes sense of the world, questioning a traditional model of Western dichotomy between subject and object, and proposing a more nuanced, less hierarchical, and richer paradigm. The creation of the subject through experience and its relation to others is posited in a continuum, not one that is characterised by linear progression but by simultaneity. Subjectivity is understood not as an individuation process but as a 'cosmic ecology of selves,' as the anthropologist Eduardo Kohn puts it.
The doubling of concrete and ephemeral phenomena is reinforced by the exhibition's title, Fog Dog, which can refer to a faint beam of light sometimes seen in a breaking fog bank but also refers to the metaphorical trope of a fog's fleeting, ambulant and thus 'dog-like' quality.
Press release courtesy Esther Schipper.