The outside is half-shuttered. Is it closed or open? Are there threats of increased violence in this part of London? You press the bell and are allowed in. You travel down a long white corridor to a room at the end, the walls clean and white. You are alone, the only person in the room.
You go further at your peril, perhaps resulting in potential injury or death. Across the room are impenetrable grids of military razor wire used in security and border installations, beautifully drawn in a geometric formation, but nevertheless impenetrable. You can see daylight beyond, trickling down through the wires, but you cannot teach it. You are contained and trapped; the only way out is back to where you came from.
Spanish artist Santiago Sierra (born 1966) has created his site-specific installation “Impenetrable Structure” in the Lisson Gallery near Edgware Road as he continues to explore the themes of borders and displacement and of the current political, emotional and physical reinforcement of borders at a time when the world has been moving in the opposite direction to become more globally-connected.
In previous works, Sierra clad the Lisson Gallery in corrugated steel sheeting in 2002 and built a cement wall in front of the Spanish pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003, through which only Spaniards were allowed in direct contrast to the openness and internationalism of the rest of the Biennale.“Fences, walls, razor wire, detention centres, restrictive laws against immigration and protests are now a permanent aspect of political agenda, at the same time that the fear of being invaded, besieged, contaminated, attacked or disrupted by external agents is extended among the population. I don’t try to produce beautiful artefacts to satisfy our senses and console us from harsh reality but to bring that reality to the forefront of artistic representation and confront us with it.” (Santiago Sierra)