Haroon Mirza at Lisson Gallery
Lisson Gallery’s newly opened space in New York City is now located under the High Line in Chelsea on West 24th Street. Currently on show is a surprising installation by British artist Haroon Mirza. He is best known for his installations that generate audio compositions. Mirza explores the perceptual distinctions between noise, sound and light as experienced through the transformative use of psychedelic plants. His new installation entitled ‘ããã - Fear of the Unknown remix’, is a work that investigates themes of seismic events that have occurred internationally over the course of the past fifteen years from the United States terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 to the recent presidential election on 11/9/2016.
Walking in, I sense and hear a rhythm, luring me in further. I’m entranced by the sound. A little further into the gallery and my eyes focus on four large screens, I sit on the round rug in front of the screens and almost forget about the sound as I watch the screens depicting various images and snippets of videos featuring the surge of populism that has spread throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, and other events under the ethos of internationalism to the ardent rise of isolationism. Five minutes later, my mind is slightly distraught. The trance-like beat of the sound starts to make me a bit foggy. I almost question what I got myself into...
As I get up and I notice a large glowing pot with LED lights surrounding and nurturing various psychotropic plants. I’m told that the frequencies of light emitted around the pot’s perimeter mimic and provide the light required for plant growth. I’m soothed by the calming blue, red, and magenta hues of the lights, but also concerned for the plants well being as I know different light waves can impact a plant’s growth and wellbeing (plants feel stress too!).
Leaving the gallery, I can’t help but feel relieved. I can’t seem to shake off the feeling of trauma/mild grogginess. I keep reflecting on the events that happened on the screen, re-living through these events, and remembering how easy it was for me to forget about these events and carry on my day-to-day. But, viewing them all together, i’m alarmed with the progression of events, and the populist trend that is occurring in the Western world. I’m also distinctly feeling for the plant in the bowl because I see myself in it; helpless by myself, and trying to ride the waves out while doing my best to carry on in my day-to-day.