INFERNO (2016)
William Mansfield
mixed media immersive installation with 4.1 surround sound
dimensions variable
sound design by Rob Cornish

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4 – 27 May 2016. Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney.

Inferno transforms the traditional white-cube gallery space into a theatrical, flame-drenched representation of the terrifying netherworld of Hell, as portrayed in Dante’s epic poem Inferno.

The work is a physically imposing multi-sensory experiential installation, simulating the experience of being imprisoned in eternal damnation.

Inferno draws on the religious and mythological notions of Hell and its various depictions in art and literature, with particular consideration to the fear instilled by the concept of Hell in my own Catholic upbringing. This installation incorporates the spectacle and kitsch theatricality I recall from my own experiences of Catholic school masses and liturgies, imbued with exuberant performances, colour, symbolism and craft. Inferno subverts the conventional religious incarnations of Hell as an unrelenting perdition by poking fun at the systems and ideas that I grew up with.

Dante’s Inferno acts as a guide on how to live a moral life and evade the temptations of sin by illustrating the consequences of enduring torment. Inspired by the sadistic humour in Dante’s rendition of Hell, my work offers an alternate reading of it as a playful and mysterious space-altering abyss. I aim to expose our inner child with a nod to the unrestrained enjoyment experienced in environments like Ikea’s ball-pit, amusement park funhouses and ghost trains.

Inferno dissolves the notion of choice typically invoked in installation art. The viewer–come–participant is at the mercy of the environment, which forces an immediate interaction and response through an unsettling mix of fear, fascination and playfulness.

Inferno presents a version of Hell inspired by cinematic clichés and cultural references. Initially humorous and amusing, as the audience moves deeper through the work they will be forced to think about the worst Hell of their own imagining.

With thanks to…

 Zoltan Blazer, Rob Cornish, Patrick Dagg, Andy Du Pont, Angela Mansfield, Coralie Mansfield, Jeff Mansfield, Rick Mansfield, Sean McElvogue, Goran Trakilovic, Elli Walsh, Kai Wasikowski and James Winter.

 Special mention to Anna Peng, DHL and Australian Customs for making my life a living hell.

 Inferno (edition of 50)
William Mansfield
four colour risograph print
53.5 × 39.5 cm
$300 (framed)

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