In a dark room in London's Blakes Hotel across two evenings in January, guests were invited one by one to become participants in Carlo Brandelli and Ewa Wilczynska's new art installation Bound 1 In A Liminal Possibility. The work invites viewers to face their most 'prominent energies' by engaging in a ceremonious presentation of artworks and objects. The first work in the pair's ongoing project N+E, the installation brings together Wilczynska's Bound and Brandelli's Liminal - two bodies of work centred around energy, following conversations between the creative maverick and Wilczynska surrounding 'communication, connection and energy'.
The man behind the 'unstructured tailoring' of menswear brand Squire in the 1990s, who subsequently re-invented Savile Row tailoring, Brandelli established Carlo Brandelli Studio in 2009 and has since translated his creative practice to sculptural and architectural work.
'I believe moving forward and exploring new ways to communicate ideas is necessary as a creative person,' Brandelli explains.
A long-term collaborator with both Nick Knight and SHOWstudio, his diverse back catalogue of work across fashion and art has 'always explored energy in some way.'
On Wednesday evening, inside the dimly lit Suite 0, I took part in an intimate art experience like no other. Taken up in the escalator by a silent chaperone, upon entering the suite I was met by Wilcyznska, who ceremoniously handed me artworks created by her and Brandelli. A resounding sound rung out, created from Wilcyznska's spoken word read against the human frequency of 110hz, instilling a heavy sense of calm.
All the objects handed to me were made and selected to be at the scale of the human hand, from three lotus shoes, to porcelain doll body parts hand-painted in oil using Wilczynska's eyelash and dressed in latex vinyl by Brandelli, who calls them 'freeform miniature hand couture'. Ushered to sit with the artists around a harmonisation plate – a conducting tool made from the pure mineral of gold – Brandelli and Wilczynska were posed as if to play a game of chess. Carefully moving talisman-like gold paramagnets over the harmonisation plate via geometric lines determined by photographic process, the plate felt metallic and cold, a contrast with the surroundings: flesh-toned foam containment boxes traditionally used to manufacture prosthetic limbs. This uncomfortable juxtaposition of flesh and metal mirrored my own feelings.
Unused to interacting with artworks in such an intimate manner, the uncharted territory of the experience left me unsure what to do in this silent space, unsure what was the right way to engage with the artworks, or in what way to respond to the artist's interactions. Upon reflection, these feelings of discomfort and uncertainty are fundamental human energies, and are perhaps some of my most prominent. In fact, these feelings of uncertainty made me re-examine my subconscious expectations of how I relate to art - further underscoring why transformative experiences like this one by Brandelli and Wilcynzska are so valuable.
The power of the multi-sensory experience, it seemed, was to make of it what you will.
'We don't want to talk about it. You need to think, you need to decide,' the artists later told me.
Each viewer's reaction was different: one audience member shed a tear, another engaged playfully, whilst others protectively crossed their arms. Rather than the artist presenting themselves or their work to the viewer – as one might be used to – it seemed it was instead the viewer's energy that was on display.
'It's a symbiotic relationship, I'm leading you, but secretly, you're leading me as well,' Wilczynska later explained.
While this initial installation was a two day happening, there are plans for a sequential Bound 2 In A Liminal Possibility to show in Paris.