26 June 2013

Defy gravity at Dalston House

HAVE you ever wanted to burgle a house, scale a wall like Spider-Man or get yourself (literally) onto the property ladder? Leandro Erlich’s unusual art installation, Dalston House, fulfils all of these desires without the prospect of arrest, injury or bankruptcy.

On a disused lot that has largely remained vacant since it was bombed in the Second World War, the life-size facade of a late nineteenth-century Victorian house lies on the ground with a mirrored surface positioned overhead at a 45-degree angle.

It’s refreshingly low-tech. Enchanted visitors strike playful poses, draping themselves over window ledges and cornices, to evoke the impression, reflected in the vast mirror, that they are perching nonchalantly on, hanging precariously off or recklessly scaling the building.

This may be art for Instagram – onlookers snap away – but it’s tremendous fun. Children will love it and even the most sceptical of adults can’t fail to be entertained.

When I clamber with childish excitement onto the facade of the house, I am struck all of the sudden by stage fright – the cameras are ready and I feel obliged to do something “creative”. For Erlich, the audience breathes life into the artwork – without them it’s a cardboard cut-out, an abandoned house of mirrors, a desolate film set.

Dalston House is part of the Beyond Barbican summer programme, a series of arts events outside the walls of the Barbican Centre featuring pop-up performance commissions and collaborations across East London. Louise Jeffreys, Director of Programming at the Barbican, said: “We seek to engage with communities and with the creative ecology of the area”. 

Erlich's installation does just this – it responds to the architecture of East London and challenges people to do more than just look, to get up close and personal to Hackney’s mushrooming, diversifying architecture in an interpretive experience that is more than just a little nostalgic.

By Victoria Walvis  

Strike a pose at Dalston House

Strike a pose at Dalston House

Strike a pose at Dalston House

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