Bryan McCormack’s spectacular and ephemeral installation uses the multiple iconic motif of the “French Letter / Capote Anglaise”. 80,000 condom shaped plastic sheaths containing light bulbs in varied rainbow tints create a tunnel of love that changes colour on the six levels of the escalator of the Pompidou Centre. As a symbolic art image the condom evokes protection against sexually transmitted infection, but it also symbolizes the male gender, sexuality, eroticism and by extension evoking customs and beliefs associated with the areas of religion and the family. The ambition of the artist is to see beyond the primary functional purpose. By displacing the condom in the context of a gallery installation, the artist’s intention is to negate evocative and symbolic associations and to liberate the viewer’s perception to consider the condom as an “object”. The intervention is complemented by environmental sound and music connecting to the French title “les sons de la vie” – “the sounds of life”. The audio of a human heartbeat pulses and changes colours, progressing from a fetus in the womb on the ground floor – to a newborn baby – to the artist’s own heartbeat on the sixth floor. The Centre Pompidou is committed to raising funds in 2011 for research against AIDS. The preservatif lights are available in the gallery shop for c.£15.
Bryan McCormack, Preservation is life – Les sons de ma vie. Sculptural and sound installation over six floors of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. 22 November – 5 December 2011.