An exhibition by Chell Young
Reviewed by Sarah Renard
‘Fragile Realities’ at ECA’s Tent Gallery is a solo exhibition by final year artist Chell Young. Running until Monday 11th March, it’s an intriguing exhibition that was well worth a visit. Young has created a series of small-scale interiors, displayed individually on steel frame plinths, their box-like external forms opening up through doorways to reveal highly realistic spaces within. The viewer has to position themselves to see into these, playing an active role and feeling as though they have been let in on a secret when the interiors are discovered to them. Making full use of the dominant window of the gallery space, some of these interiors turn out to face the street, luring in passers-by, while leaving others as a reward for those who venture into the exhibition space.
“There is a quiet sense of mystery, awe even the uncanny, to all of the photographic works, be it an open door with radiating pink light behind or a climbing staircase with its origins and destination unknown.”
On the surrounding walls are large-scale photographs of these interiors, presented as real spaces. As the viewer grapples with what it is exactly that they are looking at, intrigue and surprise abound. Bringing the models and photographs together in this intimate space asks the viewer to connect what they see before them and draws attention to the fragility between illusion and reality. Particularly compelling is a photograph which, at first glance and from a distance, appears to capture waves of the sea in an interior setting, looking out through a window to Edinburgh beyond. It is cleverly composed and highly engaging as an image, with the real materials and space only emerging upon closer inspection. There is a quiet sense of mystery, awe, even the uncanny, to all of the photographic works, be it an open door with radiating pink light behind or a climbing staircase with its origins and destination unknown. The cubic form of the gallery space feels the perfect container for these miniature interiors and photographs to co-exist. Overall, this exhibition challenges viewers to really look and questions what we (think we) see and what we hold reality to be.