Staging the uncomfortable: Three cages pieces

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The following artworks explore, physically or metaphorically, the nature of confinement places.

Double Steel Cage was an istallation created in 1974 by the American conceptual artist Bruce Nauman, consisting of two cages one within the other with a narrow corridor in-between. The spectator is invited to enter the installation, but the walkthrough proves to be an uncomfortable experience: while the inner cage is visible, its interior area is inaccessible. The corridor itself becomes too narrow to fit so that the viewer finds himself in the impossibility of physically crossing the room. The staged space is offered and denied at the same time by the artist.

“What I want to do is use the investigative polarity that exists in the tension between the public and the private space and to use it to create an edge”

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Alfredo Jaar‘s “Infinite Cell” (2004) is a steel cage reflected in mirrors on two sides to appear as an infinite sequence. The cell is not to be physically experienced by the public, but it refers to the prison where he Italian marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci spent six years of his life since 1926. The works of the Chilean artist usually deal with the desensitization of the public to images and to the representation of tragic contemporary and hystorical events.

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The third example is “Impenetrable” by Mona Hatoum (2009), a cube composed of hundreds of barbed wire rods dangling from fishing wire. From far away the installation looks like a delicate cube levitating in the space of a gallery, while it reveals its menacing nature once the spectator approaches it. The strict grid of lines allows the viewer to gaze through the cube while the dangerous nature of the barbed wire repels him.

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