IN THE DARK: WALALA X PLAY AT NOW GALLERY

EXHIBITION 

I believe I may have just experienced the apotheosis of the banality of selfie culture, a work the purpose of which seemingly aspires to be nothing more than an object to photograph, a playground as backdrop for Instagram and Facebook images to invoke the envy of friends and followers. As I walked the colourful corridors of this “immersive” environment I could sense no deeper meaning or impulse than a chance to impress people for the brief time it takes to click through an account. The product of digital print designer Camille Walala, the piece is meant to be an experiment in colour, pattern and scale, the ways in which these design features interact with the senses-pathways open spaciously, or suddenly constrict, others entrap you in a room of reflective mirrors, the floor and walls are wrought in crazy, optically fecund geometric motifs and spills of polka dots . The impact of each, however, is limited and lessened by the placement of the installation against a continuous run of windows, from which the O2 arena plaza may be glimpsed, distracting the attention from the room, offering too much natural light and sense of bigger space around what should feel almost claustrophobic. The height of the walls varies, but never reach high enough to lose sense of the scene outside, although according to the gallery’s website, the way in which one travels throughout the exhibition is meant to mirror the area in which it is set, referencing the Greenwich Peninsula, the Thames and the building which hosts it, which seems a reach to me. Ultimately, the work doesn’t have the scale or significance alluded to in the gallery notes, and perhaps some of its formal qualities and complexities may benefit from a view from above (the mezzanine is open to the public at discretionary times, an offer of which I did not partake), but not much was revealing at ground level, although several visitors seemed to be exuberantly enjoying their time in the space snapping pictures and enthusiastically posing, so many a simple pleasure was to be had. The exhibition has proved so popular that visitors can access it only by booking a date and time online. Walala X Play runs through 24 September 

http://nowgallery.co.uk/exhibitions/walala-x-play/

 

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