Scared of the Spotlight?

Everything, both nature and urban life, is in a constant process of change. We grow, improve, destruct, and eventually die. Shane Pennington‘s exhibition “Leaving the Shade” at Sur la Montagne is an exploration of this familiar yet often ill-expressed concept of change – perhaps change in the form of personal improvement. Do you dare to step out into the light and leave yourself entirely exposed? This exhibition will surely get you to ponder this… and you only have a few more days to catch it as it closes on this coming Sunday, the 15th of July!

Walking into Sur la Montagne, a small gallery with a big bright window on Torstraße, I am greeted with a forest on a wall made with black and electric-blue wire. At first, I start to ask myself – is this art trying to replace nature? But then I see that these are not mere replicas of what is in the world; these trees have their roots exposed, to the point that they are more than five times larger than the trunk.

Shane's ArtworkCreepy enough for Friday the 13th? Shane Pennington’s artwork! Photo: Leanne McClean

When I spoke to Shane, he told me that he wanted his art to be non-judgemental, and free to be interpreted by the observer. From the angle that I was looking upon it, I saw this piece as a similar to the idea of us only being able to see “the tip of the iceberg.” I thought of it as a metaphor for human nature – there is so much to every individual – but we only ever care to show the blossom on our branches, we keep our ugly roots hidden deep underground. But what if we decide to “leave the shade” and furthermore, expose our roots – the routes – of our winding past. They may be disagreeable, but just as the roots of a tree take up vital nutrients, our past has shaped who we are – so why hide it? 

The obvious question that arises from this, is how could we face a new light, the sun, the spotlight? The artwork is not supposed to supply an answer, but in my opinion it does supply the question, and in doing that suggests that we must learn how to deal with this light, and we must expose ourselves to it – for change is good, change is natural, and change is all that we can be certain upon.

  • Sur la Montagne “Leaving the Shade,” Shane Pennington. July 1st – 15th 2012. (Price range: €350-€49000)
Written by guest writer Leanne McClean from Urban Optimist.