On The Threshold

Site-specific installation
backlit UV ink-jet printed removable films applied over ten windows, sound diffusion,
Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Pavilion of Contemporary Art), Milan
Sound design: Tiziano Crotti

About this work

Conceived specifically for the PAC in Milan, Wolf created On The Threshold in the galleries usually designated for sculpture. For Wolf, thresholds are “Places of transition that connect and separate, simultaneous internal-external visions. The threshold is a borderline that faces two worlds, each of which could not exist without its counterpart. That which joins also separates.”1 With this as a starting point for investigation, On The Threshold considered the architecture of the space, its material makeup, and the specific dynamic between the inside and outside of the building (the sculpture gallery is set alongside a glass wall facing an exterior garden). Wolf covered this 10-panel glass wall with a backlit photograph, creating a linear abstraction in black and white that echoed adjacent architectural elements. The effects of the artificial light (as opposed to the natural light usually visible from the garden) along with the photographic image interfered with the perception of the real environment, prompting viewers to consider their understanding of space and objects in relation to manipulations of light.

While bringing attention to the effects of light and visual perception, Wolf also activated each viewer’s auditory perception by playing the recording of a performance that took place in the gallery on the opening night of the exhibition. The performance consisted of a dialogue between a shofar player and a classically trained soprano. The performers traversed the space, and allowed the vibrations of sound to be modulated by the contours and materials of the surrounding environment. For the duration of the exhibition, a 4-channel audio system diffused every hour at the hour, replayed the performance in the sculpture gallery. In this way, visitors became attuned to the environmental factors intrinsic to the experience of light and sound and the active participant of the virtual performance.

1. Silvio Wolf, “Architectures,” in Silvio Wolf: Sulla Soglia, On the Threshold (Silvana Editoriale S.p.A.: Milan, 2011), p. 95