Critics’ Picks

The Jungle in La Bayadère in London, 2003–2007, soil, tree trunks, moss, flowers, bark mulch, artificial ivy and branches, audio emitter, and fake birds, dimensions variable.

The Jungle in La Bayadère in London, 2003–2007, soil, tree trunks, moss, flowers, bark mulch, artificial ivy and branches, audio emitter, and fake birds, dimensions variable.

London

Karen Kilimnik

Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers
7A Grafton Street
June 16–July 21, 2007

A beguiling evocation of a tropical oasis, Karen Kilmnik’s installation inside this eighteenth-century row house’s greenhouselike front room is an imaginative display of collected details. The strong smell of mulch exudes from The Jungle in La Bayadère in London, 2003–2007, as the moist ground cover is laid thick beneath trees, live orchids, and rather fake-looking parrots and other “jungle bird” types. Speakers, installed above the entry door, wash the scene with sound: a delicate string piece, the climactic rumbling of a full orchestra, a lone howling wolf, birdsongs, and a chorus of crickets. But instead of a smooth synthesis of idyllic melodies and pastoral twitters (akin to what accompanies the decadent display windows of Londo luxury food and tea stockists Fortnum & Mason), the clumsy shuffling of a tape deck punctuates each transition in Kilimnik’s sound track.

In the quiet back room of the gallery, which is wallpapered with wide Regency-style candy stripes, a series of sketchlike drawings and paintings picture peacocks, parasols, carriages drawn by pink-plumed horses, and a silver tray set before the fireplace at a Knightsbridge hotel. The Egerton House hotel, London—tea time, 2007, captures, with a fascination perhaps tinged with a mischievous dose of mockery, the theatrics of preserving a private paradise.