Monday, 25 July 2011

Bite 133: Mark Wallinger - Threshold to the Kingdom, 2000

Threshold to the Kingdom, 2000, (still), installation, video: 11min 12sec, Tate Britain
In a grand side-room, reminiscent of a chapel, in Tate Britain, a looped video is projected against one wall.

Accompanied by the haunting hymn Miserere Mei, Deus by Allegri, the single scene, is a pair of automatic double doors at London City Airport; this is the International Arrivals gate, the industrial threshold by which you enter the United Kingdom. Travellers walk toward the viewer, unaware they are being filmed. They stride with purpose, the video slowed down filling their every movement with significance, the door opening as if by the hand of God.

An employee runs across screen. A man stops with his trolley, looks around confused, then regards a scrap of paper and continues on. Three older women greet affectionately, probably after a long absence (above). At this point the video fades out, one of only two cuts. It comes back to the closed doors before further arrivals file through, continually piquing our interest, then looping through again in repetition.

The image fading reinforces the idea of heaven - Kingdom - coming through the work. Each arrival is also a departure, and vice versa.

In a surreal juxtaposition of spirituality/religiosity and the everyday, Wallinger presents a grand and intimate statement about the mundane, generic site airports are - liminal public spaces of boredom, transition and heightened experience.