Given that the subjects dealt with are, on the face of it at least, poles apart, one of the greatest challenges of putting together Somewhere in Between was coming up with a unifying theme.
But Britton Newell can put her finger on the common thread. “On a simple level, it’s about how the artworks draw visitors into four areas of contemporary scientific research. But the more poetic theme is the exhibition trying to reveal hidden systems and intangible connections. It's about giving physical form to experiences that are a mystery to many of us.”
For instance, the synaesthesia films, she says, enable viewers to momentarily inhabit a realm of sensation that most people will never experience. Similarly, the bovine portraits of ‘Sire’ illuminate the genetic code that is bound into the meat and milk we consume. Walter’s interactive sex club maze on HIV engages with an issue “we’ve all heard about but not looked at in that way”. And Martina’s piece sheds light on a murky underwater world.
Unlike the way some exhibitions funnel visitors through a rigid, linear route, there’s no clear path at Somewhere in Between; the four rooms containing the artworks lead off through four separate doorways from the central foyer, which Britton Newell says functions as both a “palate cleanser” and as a “digestive space”.
That’s not to say no thought has gone into the layout. “Working alongside the exhibition designers Matheson Whitely, we wanted to break up the different types of experience, ensuring the physical and three-dimensional experiences sandwiched the film pieces,” says Britton Newell. None of the artists get to dominate the space, either. “Although most visitors will turn left when they enter the show, there’s no hierarchy in how we’ve laid it out.”