20 January 2016

Heritage: Vestiges

Now open at LEA26 is Vestiges by Gem Preiz, the first half of a two-part installation entitled Heritage. Here, one travels through a series of large spaces to view eighteen two-dimensional wall-mounted fractals that explore the heritage "transmitted [to] us our predecessors, and the one that we shall bequeath to our descendants in the endless fight of the Life against Time," says the artist. "It is not of material wealth from which we inherited: this one does not stop diluting in the mass which builds up every day by exploiting always more numerous human beings' work and always rarer natural resources. No, what was transmitted us over the centuries, is at first the culture, the knowledge and the ideas and those of the material things that are holding them: artworks, books, ruins...Vestiges is an evocation of these witnesses of past. It is designed as a quest and is inspired by stories of fearless adventurers who explore archeological sites or forsaken strongholds to find there the treasures of disappeared civilisations."

The fractals, as often in Gem's case, are large, varied and striking, inviting us to delve into what convincingly appear to be other worlds that reflect the artist's statement. While he has created effective environments to house these often giant images in the past — for example, the 2015 installation Metropolis — I found the surroundings in Vestiges to be almost a distraction, pulling my eye away from the artworks themselves and making the experience (perhaps inadvertently) more about the spaces, which are not nearly as finely wrought as the images.

Navigation through the installation is fairly straightforward, guided by stone markers, doorways or other elements. (Gem suggests a specific camera setting that may improve one's vantage point and perspective.) An uncredited piece of music is provided to accompany your visit, available here; the same track is available through the parcel's stream. The second phase of the Heritage project, Wrecks, will open on March 25.

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