Born in 1973, he is one the artist who always succeeds to create a real effect of surprise. In fact, he produces installations which gathered elements from the reality and changes just one parameter. It renders the work completely strange, in the sense of the Freudian concept of the Unheimlich (meaning uncanny). That is to say the interest isn’t to show us fictional topics, but rather to manipulate and divert the real. Erlich said in the P.S.1 newspaper : “So, it is not really the surreal but the “real” that interests me. The “very real”: the ordinary and the way that our notion of reality is conceived. There is no better place to question reality than in the ordinary”.
For instance, Window and Ladder-Too Late for Help (2008) an installation at Prospect.1, New Orleans, represents a metal ladder that leads to a window surrounded by bricks wall. It gives us the impression of a floating window, standing in the air by itself. All the elements of this production are from our everyday life. Only one thing misses, and make us loose our marks.
As for Swimming Pool, the effect of surprise is increased by the space where it is displayed. Speaking about the project, Erlich says: “When I first visited P.S.1, I remember thinking how perfect the Duplex space would be for the installation of Swimming Pool. This space divided the experience of seeing the work perfectly, and in the correct order. Almost ten years since its creation, Swimming Pool is finally in the exhibition space for which I have always felt is so perfectly suited.”
Indeed, the concept of this work splits in two moments and two spaces. When we enter the first room, we face a full- size swimming pool, with all its basics elements as the deck and the ladder. At first sight we think there is actually water in the pool, but, inside it, we actually see people standing on its floor instead of floating… in a second time, we go down the first floor and actually enter inside the pool; which that the viewer become part of the work, and get to become the element of the surprise of the other viewers.
Thus, Leandro Erlich plays here with our ordinary world. He breaks what we expect the most and disorient us completely. The second brilliant element of this installation is the place of the viewer becoming viewed: in the first moment, he inspects the whole piece, especially the fake water, and what catches him is the show of the people inside the pool. Inevrting the role of the viewer and, moreover, making him becoming a substantial element of the work is extremely sharp.
Apart from Leandro Erlich, other very good artists are showcased in P.S.1: Yael Bartana, Lutz Bacher, Kenneth Anger, and Jonathan Horowitz… not to be missed
[Visual above : Leandro Erlich Swimming Pool, 2004;masonry, swimming pool ladder, laminated glass and water;20 x 9 7/8 x 10 feet (600 x 280 x 300 cm);© Leandro Erlich;Courtesy: Sean Kelly Gallery, New York;Photo: Matthew Septimus. Courtesy P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center]