Mat Collishaw has collaborated with architect and designer Ron Arad to create a monumental, site-specific installation at the Roundhouse
in London. Entitled Curtain Call, Arads structure comprises 5,600 silicon rods suspended from an 18-metre diameter ring, and serves as a 360-degree canvas for film, as well as a platform for live performance and audience interaction. Collishaw will utilise this unique structure to premiere a new video work, Sordid Earth, 2011. Using 15 projectors, the film will be immersive and can be viewed from both the interior and exterior of Curtain Call.
Sordid Earth draws on Collishaws earlier series, Infectious Flowers, where he explored the confluence of beauty and decay, digitally grafting various skin diseases onto photographs of flowers. The Roundhouse video will use similar images of infected and visually menacing flowers, heightening the impact of these strangely alluring plants by presenting them on a far greater scale. Set within a tropical landscape with cascading waterfalls, it will depict the life cycle of the flowers. On the opening day of the exhibition, 9 August, the video will be accompanied by a 20-strong band of Brazilian drummers; thereafter a recording of their performance will be played within the space.
Standing in the middle of this panoramic landscape, the viewer will watch as the visceral scene unfolds to the beating of the drums; day turns to night as the flowers blossom and grow, contracting repulsive infections, including sores and pustules, weeping as they die. Collishaw incorporates the architectural nuances of Arads structure, as the silicon rods evoke jungle-like tendrils.
Collishaws inspiration comes from the landscapes of John Martin and Martin Johnson Heade, both of whom created strange and apocalyptic visions. Discussing the impetus behind Sordid Earth, Collishaw says: It intends to exploit the corrosive effects of our unquenchable appetite for depictions of a catastrophe-ravaged Earth.