leandro erlich takes his optical illusions to shanghai
all photos by justin jin, courtesy of leo xu projects
leandro erlich is known for creating larger-than-life optical illusions in which participants often find themselves standing on their heads. having come from a family of architects, much of his practice references the built environment, in which he transforms his sets with a single gesture that often sees even the most ordinary of places turned upside-down. to achieve this effect, he draws on the influences of alfred hitchcock, luis buñel, david lynch and roman polanski, taking cues from their directorial styles in order to challenge one’s common sense and understanding of his own altered reality.
‘shikumen house’ sees a large mirror angled at 45 degrees hovering over a façade that depicts the traditional shanghainese architectural style
the argentinian artist recently presented ‘project shanghai’, his first solo exhibition in china in which he was commissioned to realize two site-specific installations for the newly opened jing an kerry center. on this occasion, erlich recreated one of his most famous venutres, ‘reflective optical illusion house’ (see another iteration of it on designboom here) in the form of ‘shikumen house’. taking its name from the traditional shanghainese architectural style — ‘shikumen’ brings chinese and western elements together, resulting in structures that resemble that of anglo-american terraced homes — erlich’s mammoth-scale structure explored the building approach. the result was a life-sized façade of a dwelling that lay horizontally on the ground, with a large mirror was angled above at a 45 degree angle. the interactive work encouraged the public to sit, stand and lay on the edifice, resulting in surrealistic images of people defying the laws of gravity — climbing or dangling from the building’s front — while also investigating the preservation of shanghai’s cultural heritage, and the current state of gentrification and urbanism in the city.
the work of the argentinian artist often sees viewers standing on their heads
alternative view of leandro erlich’s larger-than-life optical illusion
in ‘changing room’ erlich draws visitors to pursue their own reflections via a series of carefully arranged mirrors within a staged assembly of shopping mall change rooms. here, one is confronted by infinite images of selfness, transported into a matrix of insatiable desire, confronted by a deep feeling of self exploration.
aerial view of ‘changing room’
the interactive work in its shopping mall context