In her solo exhibition at NURTUREart gallery, Jenny Santos presented us with a one-sided setting of a familiar looking construction. But something seems amiss; we are directed into the structure with a sense of having exited instead. From here we are transported into a scenic production, bringing up a latent desire to seek refuge from the urban landscape.
Exploiting the full mnemonic potential of rural life tropes, The Thing That’s There but Isn’t recalls a homely space caught in between the interior and exterior. Taking the work at face value, this relaxing, quasi-pastoral structure could be considered a mere prop: failing to deliver the comfort that we would expect from it. Ambiguously close to being a self-aware, hollow gesture, Santos’ construction admittedly fails to capture the lived experience it alludes to. To this end, the entrance is just as important as the work’s “inside.” Santos leads us with a promise of an immersive environment, yet we are held at arms length; we can never actually step back to fully capture the ultimately unlikely panoramic view.
Santos’ work is laden with the subtle violence of blocking or re-directing an interaction before the moment when it comes through to fruition. Yet, it is this halting moment which holds the key to the work’s activation. The Thing That’s There but Isn’t deals with both the construction and the dismantlement of idyllic rural habitation, resonating in the disruptions created.
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