Bâtiment, 2012 by Leandro Erlich; Photo: Lonely Planet
The work of artist Leandro Erlich revels in optical illusions, visual traps, and mirror games. His recent installation at the 21st Century Museum of Art in Kanazawa, Japan (and previously at P.S. 1 in New York)--a "swimming pool" covered with a roof of glass disguised in turn by a film of water--gave the impression that visitors were casually walking underwater, somehow immune to the effects of buoyancy while piercing the impenetrable blue plenum. "Bâtiment," Erlich's newest work, similarly seems to confound fundamental natural laws. The installation, which is part of the In_Perceptions exhibition currently on show at Le 104 in Paris, consists of a scaled facade of a typical Haussmannian tenement building laid out on the floor of the museum hall. A large plane of mirrors is suspended above at an angle, reflecting the spectacle below. Seen from the floor, guests appear to effortlessly scale the side of the building, dramatically clinging to trompe l'oeil elements such as iron railings, gutters, and dormers. Colossal suggests that Erlich's work momentarily endows each participant with the powers of Spider-man, but it's a recurring idea threaded throughout Paris's historical and literary narratives, from the city's war time balloons to The Red Balloon, surrealist reveries to Sofia Coppola Dior commercials. It's all over quickly, exquisite ephemera akin to, in the words of Andre Breton, "one of those spirits of the air which certain magical practices momentarily permit us to entertain but which we can overcome."
Bâtiment, 2004. Photo courtesy the artist