More in Desire Lines

Desire Lines

Studio 1.1

3 August - 27 August

In classical garden design from almost any culture in any age (from the Persian carpet, through Le Nôtre to Vita Sackville-West and beyond) a formal landscape is laid out to contain, to tame the ‘wilderness’ that encroaches it. In the austere Zen gardens of Japan the natural landscape is ‘borrowed’, the distant view of its wayward natural forms framed by a rectangle cut into the garden wall. The real world is abstracted, distanced and aestheticised while its stony reperesentation – the gravel seas and stone islands before us – are mniaturised as a new reality.

Introducing a serpentine and randomised element to the plan, ‘desire lines’ are the paths we all take that go counter to those laid down by the designer – shortcuts or evasions leading to unpredicted, queerer destinations (in every sense). Seto’s paradise gardens (existing distinctly AFTER the Fall of Man), map out sites of pleasure… woven into a carpet of trees and bushes, an undergrowth that echoes an underworld where lovers are sought or Orpheus-like wrested from Hades’ grasp. A pictographic Underworld. Cursed and blessed, damned and saved.

With Seto there’s little stability, no final pose in the game of daisy chains and musical chairs but a bold translation from the first impulse – a de-rationalisation, a patterning and a reversal – and a thoughtful understanding of the abyss that can lie under the decorative process.

Seto raises a curtain upon a masque where the libidinous action, you can be certain continues well after the curtain has fallen again. Filling the spaces between the scenes with actors both of the imagined and real worlds he paints a carefully staged backdrop to our own.

‘Sylvan meant savage in those primal woods

Piero di Cosimo so loved to draw,

Where nudes, bears, lions, sows with women’s heads,

Mounted and murdered and ate each other raw,

Nor thought the lightning-kindled bush to tame

But, flabbergasted, fled the useful flame.’

W.H. Auden ‘Woods’

57a Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ

Opening Reception: Thursdays, 3rd of August, 6-9 pm

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