There is a distinctly existential quality to Rowena Harris‘ new collection of sculptures at Rome’s Gallery Apart, and the exhibition’s title does nothing to dispel this notion. Being both on and within, as I said, running June 24 to September 30, is the result of Harris’ year-long artist residency as The Sainsbury Scholar is sculpture at The British School at Rome, “an accurate assessment of an experience defined as seminal by the artist herself”, who has spent the year developing her research on the relationship between sculpture, object and the human body.
The titles of Harris’ pieces confront the viewer verbally while the sculptures confront the viewer visually. In ‘Note to self – mine and yours perhaps’, two stone-like pieces slumped against one another in abstractly human positions view themselves in a mirror. In ‘Searching for a sense of balance’, a large metal frame is held in an upright position by a concrete block propping it up, and in ‘Plasters and bandages’, another frame is covered at one corner with a bandage-like piece, an injured object that you feel inexplicable pity for. In each of the pieces, the lifeless material objects are manipulated and positioned in ways that evoke humanity —the sadness, the confusion, the despair of people who are trying to live their lives but are just not sure quite how. **
Exhibition photos, top right.