Friday 21 March 2014

A perfect union of space and art

Constrained by space, Whitechapel Gallery expanded by annexing the Whitechapel Public Library and now the gallery wraps around Aldgate East tube station. The library once housed Europe's largest collection of books in Yiddish.

It is therefore very appropriate that in the old reading room of the library, Kader Attia's new installation, The Light of Jacob's Ladder should consist of a towering floor to ceiling structure of books that fills the space exploring subjects such as history, art, architecture, science and astronomy.

At the centre of the installation is a cabinet of curiosities containing rare artefacts, books and scientific measuring instruments.

Above it, a beam of light shines up on to a mirrored ceiling creating an infinity reflection which evokes the biblical prophet Jacob's vision of angels ascending from earth to heaven.

The installation explores the concept of books being receptacles of history, carrying memories with them. Such an excellent union of space and art.