Reports

The loose collective Disstemma presents this site-specific exhibition in a temporary space near Hackney Wick’s well known church St Mary’s of Eton. The artists Simon O’Donovan, Sean Raggett and Paul Abbott used the church as a starting point for the show.

A newly built, blacked-out retail unit plays temporary host to the visual symmetries and dislocations of Dialogue 4: Vision Thing. It is a place where religious and secular messages blend and are re-presented in a range of media. Backlit photography from Sean Raggett references and replaces stained glass windows with a doorway to the realm of the spiritual. Albeit one that when revealed seemingly offers only another translucent barrier.

The other main light source in the exhibition picks out a braille stud piece and drawing from Simon O’Donovan. His reworked Caravaggio takes a detour via Plato’s Cave, inviting us to peer questioningly into the half-light. It proposes an attitude with which to approach each piece: what are we seeing in this gloom? What is its “real” message? What is simulacrum and reflection?

With these questions and recorded sounds from the empty church binding the entire installation, we are invited to make a journey through a barely visible partitioned space. Suddenly hemmed in and guided by Paul Abbott’s corridor, we find something between a secret and a revelation. A projected film offers a chance to press our own eye to the keyhole in the church door at St Mary’s.

What results is a reflective experience that explores a religious message in a secular language, a city in a private space, the decaying in the new and unfinished. Dialogue 4 is indeed just that – a conversation with its locale. It is a kind of ‘experience engine’ for contemplation which changes those who inhabit its ascetic beauty.

Ruben Hale

Here you can express yourself. (*required)