A two-part light intervention greets the visitor upon entering the exhibition. Lit entirely by natural light, angled dividing walls transform the space into a series of connecting rooms. A large triangular opening in the ceiling and a head-high funnel-shaped construction narrowing toward an aperture fundamentally alter the experience of the space, controlling and shaping the entering light.
A second rectangular construction in the back of the gallery opens into an adjoining room, funnelling the light to create a diffuse brightness, apparition-like. While the rectangular openings recall the windows found in ecclesiastic architecture and its tradition of controlling light (e.g. as marker of the divine), yet also obliquely refer to the work of 20th century light & space artists constructing environments to shape light.
The floor of the exhibition space is covered with fine gravel, giving an unexpected feeling and sound to the visitor’s gait, as a series of human and animal steps can be heard moving closer and further away again in irregular intervals. For the visitor these disembodied sounds may take on a ghostly quality-suggesting the presence of others, no longer or not yet visible.
In the largest semi-enclosed room created by the divisions of the space, Steegmann Mangrané’s new film, Fog Dog, will be screened. Premiered in early February at the Dhaka Art Summit 2020, Fog Dog is the artist’s first foray into cinematic storytelling. It takes as point of departure the inhabitants of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka, documenting the daily life of the school and the numerous stray dogs that live there and seem to lead a parallel existence.
Designed by architect and pioneer of Bangladeshi modernism Muzharul Islam (1923-2012) and characterized by an open structure that allows for an interweaving of interior and exterior, the building is both stage and protagonist of the film.The ambient noises of the tropical landscape and the urban environment mingle, creating a richly evocative sonic landscape.
Both the film Fog Dog, with its ample portrait of a world beyond human modes of existence, and the exhibition as a whole with its heightened awareness of light, sound, and tactility, created through the architectural interventions and sound installation, seek to address how human perception makes sense of the world, questioning a traditional model of Western dichotomy between subject and object, and proposing a more nuanced, less hierarchical, and richer paradigm.
The doubling of concrete and ephemeral phenomena is reinforced by the exhibition’s title, Fog Dog, which can refer to a faint beam of light sometimes seen in a breaking fog bank but also refers to the metaphorical trope of a fog’s fleeting, ambulant and thus “dog-like” quality.