The Magic Wardrobe | Collection Co–selection

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Mat Collishaw

The Magic Wardrobe

instalation; wood; 188x176x63 cm

In the middle section of an old three-door wardrobe, the artist placed a photograph with a beautiful winter landscape: a flowing stream, rocks, and snow-covered trees. The idyllic scene encourages the viewer to come closer and examine it more closely. However, the viewers movement causes the image to disappear and what they can see up close is just their own reflection. The Venetian mirror and motion sensor used in this interactive installation make it impossible to see what the viewer expected to see up close. This evokes associations with the outstanding fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from the Chronicles of Narnia series. The book describes the fate of children staying in the countryside, shielded from the atrocities of WWII. At home, they find an old wardrobe that allows them to travel to another world.

Collishaw used this process to confront the viewer, encouraged by the beautiful image, with their own non-idealized image. In this way, the artist attempts to expose the illusion of our desires for utopia, and at the same time convince us to appreciate a realistic view of reality and ourselves.

Mat Collishaw was born in Great Britain and currently works in London. He creates photographs, films, and installations. Following a difficult childhood in a family that belonged to a fundamentalist religious sect, during the 1990s the artists aligned with the YBA [Young British Artists] movement. Both these experiences influenced the shape of Collishaws work. He is driven by the need to transgress human cognitive habits, question the ideas of perfect social order and shock his audiences. The latter, however, is not dictated by a desire to gain notoriety, but a belief that this kind of art can have real gravity and carry an important message. His works relate to political, social, and religious issues and events.