‘Inside’ transforms Inferno into an intimate womb
Across the Sewall courtyard, “Inside,” a piece by architecture student Belle Carroll, appears deeply surreal, interrupting the brick and metal grating of the exterior wall with an emanation of pink light. Stepping past the threshold of the Inferno Gallery and through a gaping opening that runs almost ceiling to floor places the viewer in a softly lit, organically shaped chamber of gauze. A speaker continuously plays poems and selections from “Bridges,” a musical composition by Carroll herself.
The artificial womb of “Inside” is tiny, contemplative and almost cozy — a fitting depiction of what Carroll called “an intimate space … a shared human experience, [albeit] one we have no memory of.” Yet Carroll’s vision is large and audacious.
“[I created] this environment with the fluid material of pink gauze [to] symbolize the beauty and violence that revolves around the female body,” Carroll, a Lovett College senior, said. “I dedicated this work to my aunt, who showed me the struggles of being a woman in a very patriarchal society. My subject is the womb, because we are very much reduced to that as a symbol of our humanity.”
The poems, many of which contain deeply raw subject matter, are continuously read out in a steady, feminine voice from a hidden speaker. The gentle intonation creates a bracing juxtaposition between fiery content and the calming tones of an audiobook. According to Carroll, each poem deals with the body and how the body is perceived over a lifetime. Indeed, one poem is titled “the art of growing” by Rupi Kaur. Carroll explained that she admires the universality of Kaur’s work.
“She’s very young, very bright,” Carroll said. “Her work’s all accessible: its vocabulary, its intonation … It transcends several generations. I know grandmothers who read her.”
Kaur authors every poem featured in the exhibit, save one original composition by Carroll. Written for the exhibition, the poem serves as an introduction to Inside, discussing and spatially analyzing the womb.
As a multimedia experience, “Inside” seems to overflow the 10-by-10-foot confines of the Inferno. Despite the notoriously cramped nature of what was once called the Matchbox, Carroll was enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase her exhibit there. However, she does not envision the path of “Inside” ending at the Inferno.
“The space is very much what you make of it,” Carroll said. “This is a work in progress. I’d like to develop the artwork over the next couple of years to hit on parts of feminism that I didn’t get the chance to in this work.”
Regarding the future of “Inside,” Carroll made clear that no plans were set in stone.
“Other architecture students have suggested that I should enlargen the space, make it more of a tunnel to have the spacial process of entering,” Carroll said. “It’s very much an open process.”
Regardless of what the future holds for “Inside,” it is showing at the Inferno Gallery in Sewall Hall until April 14 and very much worth the trip. To schedule a visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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