If you haven’t been to Hanmi Gallery to see Jeehee Park’s Elephant in the Room, it could well be that you are too late. Although the exhibition is due to close on 3 August, the nature of the work is not ideally suited to the hottest days of the year.
The main installation in the ground floor space is constructed of copper pipes, zinc plates, wiring… and fruit bought off the Old Kent Road in the Elephant & Castle area. And while the fruit was fresh when the exhibition opened ten days ago, things have moved on since then.
The installation is designed to “appeal not just to the eye but also to the viewer’s scent and hearing.” The elaborate construction certainly appeals to the eye with its complex three-dimensional geometry; and as the fruits generate small amount of electricity, a high-pitched whistling sound can be heard. As the colour of the fruit has changed from bright oranges and yellows to a more uniform green as it has rotted in the heat, so has the aroma of the installation transformed from something that was enticing at the start of the show to something more pungent now.
Upstairs the exhibition is less reliant on organic material. Sheets of perspex have been delicately laser-cut to look like lace – a project that results from the artist’s observations of lace curtains in the Aylesbury Estate near the Elephant. And the artist experiments with other ways of generating small amounts of electricity: works that look like architectural drawings, made out of copper and zinc foil laid on to paper infused with copper sulphate, are placed into a shallow water bath and manage to light a small bulb for a while. When the generative power is exhausted, the work is hung on the wall.
The brief essay that accompanies the exhibition notice explains some of the thinking behind Jeehee Park’s practice, and is well worth a read. Catch the exhibition soon, if it’s not already too late.