Jane And Louise Wilson's Sealander At New Art Gallery Walsall

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 18 December 2007
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a black and white photograph of a concrete bunker sunk at an angle and surrounded by sea

Jane and Louise Wilson, Casemate H667, 2006. Courtesy of the Gottex Collection

Large-scale photos of the broken and decayed World War Two bunkers that litter the Normandy coastline of northern France form the basis of a new exhibition at the New Art Gallery in Walsall.

Devised by Turner Prize-nominated sister act, Jane and Louise Wilson, the eight large-scale photographs are part of a multi-screen installation called Sealander, which runs at the gallery until January 27 2007.

The black and white photographs are monumental and compelling, picturing edifices that in many cases have become repositories for graffiti and litter and a space of shelter for local tramps.

They also occupy a space between land and sea, carrying the very real scars of the battle to rid Europe of fascism, and for the artists they now seem to defy any sense of time and place.

a black and white photograph of a concrete bunker sunk in an angle into a sandy beach

Jane and Louise Wilson, Biville 2006. Courtesy Haunch of Venison, Zurich, Lisson Gallery, London and 303 Gallery, New York

The exploration of the bunkers is intercut with footage of the rare deep-sea Vampire Squid.

Though only around 15-30 cm in size, it possesses the largest eye proportional to its body of any known creature. Its body is also studded with small light-producing organs called photophores, which are turned on and off to ensure either invisibility or defensive flashes.

The eye of the squid operates as a kind of metaphor for the eye of the spectator and also of the camera as it flits across the concrete surfaces of the bunkers perched on the edge of the ocean.

a black and white photograph of a large concrete casemate for an artillery piece


(Above) Jane and Louise Wilson, Azeville, 2006. Courtesy Haunch of Venison, Zurich, Lisson Gallery, London and 303 Gallery, New York

Jane and Louise Wilson are known for their work exploring architectural spaces that resonate with associations of power and control. Previous works have focussed on the now deserted American nuclear air base at Greenham Common and the archives of the Stasi in East Berlin.

The controversial concrete public art piece, known as the Apollo Pavilion and designed by artist Victor Pasmore for Peterlee, County Durham has also been used as a basis for a video installation by the pair and commissioned by BALTIC in 2004.

The twin sisters were born in Newcastle in 1967 and have worked collaboratively since 1989. They share a flat in London.

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