Michal Rovner's Perspective, displayed in the Oxford Street windows of Selfridges, is shown as part of Selfridges’ State of the Arts campaign in collaboration with the Crossrail Art Programme. The artwork corresponds with her work Transitions which will be installed at the Canary Wharf Elizabeth line station as part of the Crossrail Art Programme. There, the work deals with human motion in time and space, as it is presented in the lines of trains crossing the landscape. Here, at Selfridges, the place and the context are different.
The work is presented as a triptych. On both sides of the triptych appear female figures, raised above a landscape that echoes a reference of London. In between them, a bridge – The Tower Bridge. At the lower middle part of the landscape - multiple lines in motion, small human figures moving rapidly, passing one another, travelling in straight lines, like the movement of trains, entering and exiting the landscape. And the figure of one person, walking alone in the space, at a slow pace, appearing and disappearing.
The female figures are based on a copper ornament that is situated on both sides of the store's main entrance, welcoming the visitors to this famous shopping venue. In Perspective, they are removed from that context and become the main theme of the work.
One of the female figures is light and bright, its hand held out in a welcoming gesture, and the other dark, and holding an mysterious object. They become monumental, mythical figures, representations of light and dark, positive and negative.
The entire work shifts gradually from black-and-white, like a sketch or a timeless document, through an intensification of color, to a rich and saturated red, which amplifies the emotions.
The bridge between the figures represents the endless transitions between light and dark, day and night, illusion and disillusion, protection and danger. The bridge appears to hold together all of these opposing forces, connecting them.
Selfridges was founded in the early twentieth century, when the first large department stores opened in Europe and the United States. These giant stores played a central role in shaping the new consumer habits of the mass society and contributed to the creation of the passion for shopping, for objects and for luxury goods. Over time, some of these would become cultural icons. These two female figures become the guardian angels of the new religion – consumerism.
Mr. Selfridge, an American businessman and the store's founder and owner, was in love with The Dolly Sisters. He admired them, and wanted to put them on a pedestal, and created the statues at the entrance of the store, as its gatekeepers.
As he followed the sisters’ gambling addiction, he himself sank into gambling. And so, the gatekeepers did not help in keeping his own fortune.
This is another layer of operatic scene of love, passion and obsession, reminiscing of the one that fuels the world of shopping and consumerism.