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Reading Cabinets, 2007

Shown in different contexts like Modern Art Oxford (UK), Domaine Pommery (Reims, France) and St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity (Valletta, Malta), Reading Cabinets presents and simultaneously hides its controversial subject-matter in bright red cabinets that must be opened and closed like a book’s pages in order to be ‘read’.

“An arc of three cardinal red painted ‘Reading Cabinets’ are placed in the centre of an empty room. No clues offer direction to the viewer. Although the themes of some of Vella’s sketches placed in the cabinet drawers are highly charged, such as the authoritarian quality of religion, the choice of drawer and work the viewer selects is at random. If each unlabelled drawer is methodically selected then the cabinets start to read like a book.[…] Drawings 2 and 6 consider the relationship between religious indoctrination and violence in such a graphic manner, the drawers begin to offer a form of self-censorship; pull out the drawer just a few inches to reveal only part of the arresting image. The fact the three plan chests are full of drawings is reminiscent of the storage facilities used in Art studios and primary school classrooms where freedom of expression abounds. Conversely, the classroom is also where we are taught early religious values, often in a prescriptive manner.” Lisa Doolan, 2007, Daily Info.

Photo: Reading Cabinets at Modern Art Oxford, UK

Date
  • March 23, 2007
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