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CURATING

Claire Barclay

Claire Barclay, Shadow Spans, 2010, wood, grass, cotton, unfired clay, leather, soil. Installation view, Whitechapel Gallery, London. Henrietta Hale performing Dog Kennel Hill Project’s dance Figure Stuck Stuck, November 2010. Photo: Patrick Lears.

FOR HER SPRAWLING PROJECT Shadow Spans, 2010, currently on view at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Claire Barclay has responded to the site—a former library that retains many of its original Victorian details—by creating a mise-en-scène that chimes with the building’s faintly Dickensian aura. There are large black sculptures reminiscent of window frames; door-like slabs painted light violet; sheets of cotton printed with a brickwork pattern; brass implements resembling keys, cups, and other household items; mutated top hats; leather “gloves” with only one finger; and terracotta pots. The effect is of a building turned inside out, its ghostly history returning in a jumble of domestic objects and free-floating architectural elements—a scene of entropic disarray that we are asked to contemplate like voyeurs, through those giant windows.

But if Shadow Spans initially

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