Presented at Modern Body Festival 2016.
A dark room designed to provoke and challenge the visitor’s sense of balance by deliberately tweaking spatial references that usually guide us through space. By entering this room, the visitor gradually becomes conscious of the physical input provided by the space into his/her body. This body-space relationship becomes increasingly mediated through the skin – particularly hands and feet – rather than by sight. In The Grotto, confinement and loss of orientation can be an invitation for corporeal exploration. In spite of the darkness, visitors feel comfortable thanks to a smell that is specially used for guiding the route.
The creation of grottoes became fashionable during the Mannerism period, after the accidental discovery of Nero’s Domus Aurea – unearthed in the late 15th century. The artificial cave, with series of rooms, was decorated with garlands, foliage and animals. The rooms had sunk underground over time. The explorers found the space rather strange, which led the Italians to give it the name “grottesche,” or grotesque. Grottoes were also very popular in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. These spaces were filled with sculptures to create a sense of mythology and veneration.
Here the title ‘Grotto’ recalls the design of those artificial caves – when landscape design served as a medium for sensual exploration. The smell of Niaouli adds an extra layer of experience, providing a scented guidance for the visitor.