Review: Visual Rights
Open Eye Gallery, until 22nd March

Words Patrick Kirk-Smith
Images, courtesy Open Eye Gallery

Corinne Silva’s Garden State rethinks territory. It’s a challenge to many things, but primarily to how we as individuals think about ownership. I say we as a gardener as well as an creative, but this includes anybody who feels ownership of public gardens, parks and green spaces.

c. Rob Battersby

Whether you rent or own your house, there’s a piece of paper somewhere that says your garden belongs to you. While you walk through the park, there’s a masses of public documents outlining which parts of that are preserved for the public benefit, and some (as recent local history may demonstrate) that show which parts are open to development.

But the reality of compulsory purchase, and the impact of development surrounding our private gardens is that even the most cherished of spaces is at constant risk to trees. Whether it’s the train company taking down trees at the back of the garden, the neighbours extending and taking your sunlight, or housing developers segmenting portions of public fields for a series of fully fitted three and four bed houses. Green spaces change.

Corrine Silva’s work is one part of the latest exhibition at Open Eye Gallery, focussed on power, ownership and control of physical and political geographies. For me, it’s the most powerful installation here, but that’s because I feel close to the subject. I guess it’s an anxiety we all feel about our own space, but stepping back from my own response, that anxiety shouldn’t be overstated when Hagit Keysar’s Restricted Zone: Temple Mount is in the next room.

c. Rob Battersby

Restricted Zone looks at unknown barriers; invisible political fences; defence mechanisms. These are the geofences surrounding no-fly zones. Whether they’re airports, parks, or in this case al-Aqsa, the centre of religious and political conflict in recent years. The space is accessible on foot, and is an important part of the history of the prophet Muhammad, but the technological barriers, invisible to the eye, prevent drones from entering or taking off in the area.

The film is a captivating visualisation of this barrier, and like everything else in Visual Rights shows that ownership really isn’t within our control.


Visual Rights
Open Eye Gallery, until 22nd March
Words Patrick Kirk-Smith
Images, courtesy Open Eye Gallery