Perpetual swirling pool of black liquid feels like death

In an old movie theater in San Gimignano, Italy, there is a swirling pool of black liquid that looks like an accidental portal to another world. The theater looks old and forgotten, but it is the new home of Galleria Continua and the perfect environment to make Anish Kapoor’s ‘Decension’ installation feel incredibly surreal.

The pool is built flawlessly into the floor, which opens up to hold the swirling black water. You can’t tell how much water is in the pool or where it is draining to. It feels perpetual, with no beginning, no end, no point of reference, no way to grasp it – it feels like death.

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Kapoor explains his ideas behind the piece: “All my life I have reflected and worked on the concept that there is more space than can be seen, that there are void spaces, or, as it were, that there is a vaster horizon. The odd thing about removing content, in making space, is that we, as human beings, find it very hard to deal with the absence of content. It’s the horror vacui. This Platonic concept lies at the origin of the myth of the cave, the one from which humans look towards the outside world. But here there is also a kind of Freudian opposite image, that of the back of the cave, which is the dark and empty back of being. Your greatest poet, Dante, also ventured into a place like that. It is the place of the void, which paradoxically is full – of fear, of darkness. Whether you represent it with a mirror or with a dark form, it is always the “back”, the point that attracts my interest and triggers my creativity.”

‘Descension’ was on view through May 9th of this year.

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