Centrefold: A blind bit of notice: Hidden meanings in Hyde Park

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Indy Lifestyle Online
For a whole year, Brian Catling has been soaking up the atmosphere in Hyde Park. This has not meant merely feeding the ducks or making the occasional boat-trip on the lake, but observing and listening to every surrounding object. His artistic response has, in turn, become part of the park: the 48-year-old sculptor, poet and teacher is currently presenting The Blindings to visitors to the Serpentine Gallery (right).

For eight hours at a stretch, Catling wanders amid his perspex and glass installations, or around the park, in a business suit and metal-rimmed specs, reciting an hour-long monologue. The installations are rectangular because, apparently, people always mark out rectangular shapes of territory for themselves on the grass. 'If you look at the park from above with a heat-seeking camera you will see,' he explains. The 'live' quality of the piece depends largely on the curiosity levels of those who show up to see him. 'I've become more and more aware of how the audience can psychically affect the work,' he states, adding 'this show is completely localised. It's absolutely for the here and now.'

He is ambivalent about the Serpentine Gallery. 'It's extraordinary in that one moment you can have one man and his dog, and the next, thousands of people. On the other hand, the atmosphere is completely alien to showing art. It has no resonance of change. I've noticed that when people come in they often go straight to the window and look out at where they've just come from.'

Thanks to a radio-mike, Catling's rhapsody (which contains voices heard at Speaker's Corner, a child crying and 'ghosted objects') can be heard inside the gallery when he is, in fact, far removed, bridging this gap between interior and exterior. Even when he is there, though, his presence is qualified. 'I'm a bit like a somnambulist. I don't look straight at the audience. Like the objects they are transparent.' You have been warned.

'The Blindings' 10am-6pm Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W2 (071-402 6075) to 11 Sept

(Photograph omitted)

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