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Indepth Arts News:

"Sodium Blindness"
2000-02-05 until 2000-02-24
APT Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Sodium Blindness is a group exhibition of six female artists working with video and photography whose work explores contemporary experiences of the urban space at night. Slowly sprawling from the west to the east, the illumination of city spaces has been far from immediate. The experience of entering areas of the city which are badly lit can be vastly different from the experience of walking under the bright lights of a busy city centre. Historically the bright lights of the west end have become associated with entertainment and ‘night life’, whilst the dark streets of less affluent areas of London have become associated with criminal behaviour which goes undetected beneath the dark blanket of nightfall. The work of the six artists in Sodium Blindness looks at how women negotiate the city at night, this exhibition also attempts to reveal how the contemporary city remains full of myths associated with nocturnal activity.

Movement through city after dark is central to Sarah Conway’s video work: a woman walks through unevenly lit empty London streets. This everyday activity takes on a cinematic menace as the camera tracks her route. Helen Couchman also takes the city streets as her focus: taking the area surrounding the gallery space as her starting point, she highlights our perceptions of a specific journey through the city relating the journey to the APT Gallery.

Lynne Marsh’s video projection Venus . . . I see Blue is concerned with an individual movement through space. Referencing the powerful protagonists of video games, we confront a character who is in complete possession of the space around her. Entering a dark space, the viewer meets with a life-size character rushing forward through a landscape that is reminiscent of the city portrayed in video arcade games. Shizuka Yokomizo’s photographs also reveal a control and possession of nocturnal space, but in her case the individuals are self assured within their own domestic realm. In Strangers Yokomizo contacted a group of individuals (whom she had previously not met) via letter and asked them if she could photograph them anonymously. These strangers were invited to stand looking out of a ground floor window of their home at an allotted time in the evening. Their gaze returns that of the camera to create a compelling series of surprisingly intimate portraits.

Claudine Hartzell explores this relationship between inside and outside, but she is more concerned with glances into a space rather than from a space. Her images are of both corporate and domestic interiors that we might glimpse when moving through the city at night. Vicki Wetherill’s work likewise captures glimpses of an interior: over a year she documented a single street in Paris’ red light district. In her images we see the alluring glamour of a number of establishments promising nocturnal delights. Behind the enticing curtains which hang in front of peepshow doorways lies a brightly lit interior offering sex for sale. Our glimpses of the grotty worn carpets within show that these doorways are popular thoroughfares for trade in the sex industry.

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