A yearlong exhibition at the Garfield Park Conservatory changes with the seasons | Art Review | Chicago Reader

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A yearlong exhibition at the Garfield Park Conservatory changes with the seasons

"Solarise," the new installation by Luftwerk, is a collaboration between light, color, and plants.


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"Solarise," a new installation by the artistic duo Luftwerk, uses light and color to produce five site-specific interventions that reflect the inner and outer structures of the plants at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The exhibition, which opened last month on the fall equinox, will run one day short of a full year, the longest exhibition Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero have ever produced.

"For the exhibition we researched how plants absorb the color spectrum," said Bachmaier. "They use blue light for the direction they grow, and red for the flowering process. We wanted to translate these colors into a playful environment."

Bachmaier and Gallero used transparent red and blue acrylic to create Florescence, a floral-patterned canopy that spans the length of the conservatory's Show House and casts colorful shadows on a garden of plants below.

There's more color play in Prismatic, a five-piece triangular structure in the Desert House that refracts a prism of colors onto the surrounding succulents when struck with direct sunlight from overhead. For this piece Luftwerk's collaborative partner, Owen Clay Condon, used a contact mike to record sounds made from plucked cactus needles and composed an otherworldly sound piece that complements the work's arid landscape.

"Solarise" is still a work in progress; Bachmaier and Gallero will continue to study how each installation reacts to the changing seasons. Fall's slanted light has already elongated the colorful shadows thrown by Florescence, far different from the effect produced by summer's direct sun. "The exhibition is a living, organic thing," Bachmeier explains. "It will continue to keep evolving and developing."  v

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