Now open on the Green Pavilion 1 platform at Akim Alonzo’s Itakos Gallery, is Bunkers are Us, by Kaiju Kohime. A 3D installation, it is a reflection on modern life, that in part draws on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but casts its net much wider.
All of us need shelter. It can be a house, a tent, a church. But the past few decades we have increasingly isolated ourselves from others in ever more fortified houses with increasing security and locks. Because of the the increasing amount of threats that are bestowed upon us, like wars, climate change, exponential population growth and fast spreading diseases we have become less confident in our fellow human beings. We have retreated behind concrete masks, concrete skins, concrete bunkers.
Our last shelter is our skin. We hide inside our skin. But not only are we fortifying our houses, are we not becoming bunkers ourselves as well?
– Kaiju Kohime
On the platform is a reflection of the above description: three large concrete homes with gun-like slits for windows, together with two smaller bunkers and a cathedral, its original form shown in rusting outline, the building itself having shrunk within the framework as physical representation of the idea of withdrawal away from the world.
The houses contain within them various elements: violins, concrete blocks that might be books, flowers, ladders that climb nowhere… They are perhaps the things we take with us into our solitude in lieu of genuine company, and perhaps – in the case of the ladders and the female form – reminders of the freedoms and companionships we lose in so shutting ourselves off from others.
Projected onto the walls of the building are the words of Proposition 1 from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Austrian-British logic philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (if you do not see the words of the proposition, make sure you enable your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) via Preferences → Graphics). The only one of his works to be published in his lifetime, TLP, as it is often called, was an attempt to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science, and is regarded as one of the more significant philosophical works of the twentieth century.
Within this installation, the use of Proposition 1 would appear to be a direct challenge to the manner in which we are all increasingly self-isolating, an attempt to remind us that back contracting inwards, we limit ourselves, that the world is all that is, is becoming ever more finite thanks to our willingness to withdraw and the facts that help us interpret, understand, and live within that world are similarly become more finite, thus limiting our world view even further.
It is symbolism like this, found throughout Bunkers Are Us, that makes this installation provocative, be it through consideration of how our slide towards isolationism – which started well before SARS-CoV-2 reared its head -, or our mistrust of those around us that causes us to convert our houses into castles and has reduced churches from places that welcomed everyone to closed fortresses where only the known few are welcome; or through the manner in which it brings us into contact with Wittgenstein; or simply through the wonder of the mobile sculptures within the smaller bunkers.
With further subtle commentary in the form of the two Animesh figures located at the teleport station (echoes of simplier times when the world was our home?), Bunkers are Us is an installation that pokes at the conscience and grey matter.
ATL is rated Moderate