White Cube | Black Box
Light defines the limitations of our senses and the boundaries of the space that surrounds us. In darkness, these boundaries disappear and the senses become more acute. Only then, we can actually 'see' what we imagine.
The dark room has evolved to a standard presence in all contemporary exhibitions and museums. Now at last, we are aware that an artist has limited control on the content of the work he produces and that the acceptance of the audience is what ultimately delivers this content. It seems that for the last two decades, this insight is motivating artists to install black boxes and of course, these are not merely dark rooms for screening videos or films. A black box can offer with the prerequisite that the construction is perfect the best results in terms of monitoring the content and subsequently, the final representation of the work.
The dark venue, the black box, is not of course a recent discovery. It is as old as darkness itself and the curiosity for the unknown. We shouldn’t forget that artificial and controlled lighting in the form of light bulbs was invented just a hundred years ago.
Playing with light and darkness and various painting mechanisms can be found already in Albrecht Duerer’s engravings (1526) and in the Encyclopedia of Diderot & D’Alembert (17511772) under the terms 'chambre obscure' and 'camera obscura'. Its absolute implementation is known as the camera (photographic and film). Nevertheless, apart from darkness and the unknown, it is essential to mention its use as an entertaining box that provokes the innate human curiosity (peep shows for adults, Viewmasters for children). In works like 'La chute d'eau' and 'Le gaz d'eclairage' by Marcel Duchamp (196646), or Cell (You better grow up) by Louise Bourgeois (1993), the audience is compelled to play 'Peeping Toms' in order to participate. Here, the exclusive symbol of the artists and their art is the 'eye' (O. Redon 'Cyclops' 18951900). Nevertheless, the audience approach the theme in a different manner when called to observe or enter strictly defined boxes that have apertures and from which the light/colour of the interior escapes after management (Bruce Nauman, 'Yellow Room', 1974 and James Turrell 'Virga(night)', 1974.
On the other hand, the white box is a homogeneously lighted space and was predominant mainly during the second half of the 20th cent., as the most suitable venue for presenting art and had impressive results in projecting the works. Considering the success of these presentations, the results in a black box are even better, since multimedia, installations, and environments were gradually utilized. These mediums use uneven lighting, completely controlled and all kinds of visual and audio stimuli in an effort to cover all the senses. Other works like 'Szene aus der Hirschjagd’ by Joseph Beuys (1961) and Manfredo Massironi’s 'Cubo luminoso e struttura dinamica' (1961), demonstrate a controlled 'order/disorder' and preordain the dynamic, evident in the work of Ilya Kabakov in 'Die Toilette' (1992) and 'Le cube blanc' (1993).
In 'Black box in a white cube', the same space is lightened homogeneously, in order to demonstrate the surfaces/shells of the black boxes, while their content is the element that exposes the exhibition.
The rest of the world remains in a black box, outside and is merely just a part of a simple installation. The room is exclusively devoted to one artist and his work and is not influenced by or compared with other works.
The White cube depicts the image of an ideal white room, something that exists many years now and is considered as the archetype of the art of the 20th cent. It seems that the Black box could probably constitute the archetype of art in the era of media during the first decades of the 21st cent.
Participating artists: Nikos Kokkalis, Nikos Triantaphyllou, George Tserionis, Dimitris Halatsis
Concept / Curated by: Georg Georgakopoulos, Dimitris Georgakopoulos
Opening: May 6, 2005
Duration: 16.5 – 19.6.2005
Visiting hours: Mon – Sat 14:00 – 21:00
25 A.Metaxa Str. 106 81 Athens