Black Swan, Relived
Some of us are just recovering from the psychological ware of Black Swan and now, Regen Projects, a Los Angeles gallery, is offering a trip back down the rabbit hole with its newest exhibit. Appropriately titled Black Swan, it features a selection of contemporary artwork from notables like Douglas Gordon, Anish Kapoor, and Glenn Ligon that were featured in and inspired by the film.
Dominic Sidhu (who also selected the works that became a part of the film’s sets) brought together a darkly provocative collection of pieces around a wall-to-wall laminated mirror floor by Walead Beshty that is meant to shatter as it is walked upon. It’s an unsettling experience to be sure—especially for the superstitious—an effect compounded by the stark, abstract works in black, white, and silver and the reliance on reflective surfaces. It’s something of a fun house gone noir.
“It goes back to the metaphysical interpretations of Swan Lake and a meditation on apparition versus reality,” says Sidhu. “There’s a vortex hall of mirrors feeling when you walk through the exhibition and feel the floor crack under your feet and see your reflection in every corner of the room…it’s this balance between creative impulse and vulnerability, psychological vulnerability.”
On screen, the artwork selected by Sidhu to complement the environments created by Set Decorator Tora Peterson and Production Designer Thérèse DePrez are something of the strong, silent partner in the film. In Thomas Leroy’s office in one scene, a black watery landscape painting by Avner Ben-Gal moves in and out of reflection in a mirror behind Nina, across from her a delicate drawing of a soft flame by Wade Guyton is in view behind Thomas and a charred-black Victorian brocade painting by Rudolph Stingel is situated between the two pieces, underscoring the “attraction, seduction and disparity” between the two characters. Easy to miss in a first viewing? Sure. But did it subliminally sneak in to the viewer’s brain? Absolutely.
“Ugo Rondinone made this colossal black window that’s also reflective. It’s really powerful to experience in person. It’s like this huge vortex shape that’s really seductive and dark, but ultimately impenetrable and overwhelming in scale,” says Sidhu.
This is the first film project that many of these noteworthy artists have worked on, though Sidhu never intended for that to be a focus on-screen. “It’s not really about saying Erica or Nina are really wealthy and have a Richard Phillips on their wall,” says Sidhu. “It’s more about these pieces having their own energetic charge and playing characters and being visual and conceptual signifiers just like the actors are.”
Black Swan is on view at Regen Projects through April 16.