For their current installations at budding arts space Silent Funny in West Humboldt Park, Luftwerk—the collaborative comprised of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero—were inspired by how light travels through water to create visceral connections for viewers, working with excerpts from previous outdoor projects reimagined for the space’s cavernous interior.
“FLOW” was originally installed in a downtown alley. It projects elements of abstracted research about the Chicago River collected with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In this iteration, luminous video projects onto sprays of water cascading in the darkened space. I moved under the mist, enchanted by successive rainbow sightings amidst projections of intricate black-and-white geometric patterns that morphed continuously, like a storm turning. Nearby, “DROP” is a petal of a larger piece, “Flower of Light,” a kinetic chandelier that projects a pool of rippling light to the beat of a single water drop. Beneath “DROP,” all beings become celestial bodies, floating between halos.
The arts liaison at NRDC introduced Luftwerk to the space-to-be in September 2014. Bachmaier and Gallero wanted to bring work designed for an exterior experience indoors. “There aren’t many places that allow for real installation-based work because people are concerned about damage [to the space]. Silent Funny allows for very experimental work,” said Bachmaier. Luftwerk examines the connective nature of water and light using varying lenses and scales. By repurposing pieces from other works, Luftwerk writes a narrative for elemental experience, posing new questions and comparisons. Side by side, the excerpts create a supernatural landmark, a city’s interpretation of a waterfall.
“Refractions” set the tone of clouds breaking, revealing an oasis in a dark warehouse. By bringing the work indoors, Luftwerk has been able to control a more private, immersive experience. I stayed in the exhibition for hours. It is hard to leave. It is hard to notice the passing of time. It feels like home. Across the space, I watch a small girl leap through the screen of water, screaming and laughing, emerging on the other side into darkness. (Whitney Richardson)
Through May 29 at Silent Funny, 4106 West Chicago