LAST CHANCE: Doug Wheeler at David Zwirner
04 apr 2014 by Francesca Fanelli
Francesca Fanelli reviews Doug Wheeler's show at David Zwirner Gallery, New York.
To experience Doug Wheeler’s installation, LC 71 NY DZ 13 DW, 2013, is like entering an alternate universe. One where light and space are the only elements and the earth’s horizon line, expressed as a curvilinear violet light, demarcates a barren landscape.
Wheeler’s massive installation takes up the entire 1st floor of Zwirner’s 537 W. 20th street location in Chelsea. Although simple in design, a white domed room with a convex platform made of wood in the center surrounded by purplish-violet LED lights installed around the bottom, the exhibition is extremely effective.
As a founder of the light-and-space movement of the 1960s and 70s, Doug Wheeler is a master of perception, altering the viewer’s consciousness through immersive environments. Wheeler states that his current exhibition is a “rotational horizon work” based on his experiences as a pilot, studying the curvature of the earth from an aerial perspective and observing how light changes on the horizon line. Wheeler is able to bring this concept to life and to experience his horizon room is - dare I say it - religious.
Viewers are asked to wait - only a few people are allowed in the room at one time – and are required to put on white gauze booties (to keep the white floor pristine). While waiting on a bench outside the installation room, a violet light emanates from a rectangular opening, beckoning.
Entering the room, one becomes completely disoriented, transported to what I perceived as the artic. Footsteps reverberate and eco in the space. Looking up the ceiling, it appears infinite. When stepping closer to the purple horizon line the light steadies, but when I start to move with the curve of the platform the light pulses as if alive. Two other women are with me in the room. One starts to sing in a wavering voice, the acoustics are perfect and I am deeply moved. But just as I begin to adjust to this new, otherworldly planet, I am ordered out and return to the noisy streets of Chelsea. But the uncanny sensation stays with me for the rest of the day.
Photos by Tim Nighswander, Imaging4Art © 2014 Doug Wheeler; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Doug Wheeler’s exhibition closes April 5th and if you find yourself in New York, be sure to see this breath-taking show before it's gone.