Critics’ Picks

On Translation: Stand By, 2005.

On Translation: Stand By, 2005.

London

Muntadas

Gimpel Fils
30 Davies Street
July 11, 2013–November 18, 2006

With the text WARNING: PERCEPTION REQUIRES INVOLVEMENT emblazoned across the gallery’s glass facade, Antoni Muntadas declares the premise behind his ongoing project, “On Translation.” Inside, those increasingly ubiquitous retractable-fabric barriers dictate a crisscrossing path through the space; the path guides visitors on a slow and prescriptive tour past five color photographs glowing in large light boxes, each titled On Translation: Stand By, 2005. The images capture people forming lines at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, an international airport, a cinema in France, outside an administrative building in Barcelona, and outside the new MoMA in New York. In some cases, metal blockades have been erected to control the formation and movement of the crowds, while in others the group has imposed an orderly queuing system upon itself. The bright and grainy photographs skip over details of individual figures, allowing a quick comparison between the behaviors of communities around the world. At first, On View, 2004–2005, a video projected on the central wall, seems to have found a space where people have escaped these restrictive protocols. Silhouetted against glass, figures walk past at varying speeds, while others form small groups at a high counter. However, in this scene, systems of conduct remain in place. We are looking at an airport, a place where people are trapped within mandated methods and schedules of transport. Those that seem to have dropped out of the shuffle to rest are actually filling out their official immigration documents.