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The Last Resting Place of an Anonymous Citizen

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The Last Resting Place of an Anonymous Citizen: An Installationby Ian Rawlinson At CUBE, 113-115, Portland Street, Manchester, until 25 June 2000.

Some people may need to be told that the dominant element of the two sculptures that comprise this installation are security shutters, writes Julian Holder . Even then the appropriateness of this intelligent choice of material is not at first apparent. In Manchester such shutters, used to seal empty properties, were abandoned some years ago by the city's housing authority in favour of painted plyboard screens. Now, complemented by salvaged strip-lighting, they form part of an architectonic assemblage by Ian Rawlinson, which explores notions of containment with considerable power and sadness.

The reconfiguration of these mass-produced items exudes a quiet threat so that the viewer feels at any moment something might happen. The ever-present hum of the strip lighting can never be relaxing. Will the pieces unfold, even collapse? Will they follow you around?

One has its lighting on top, the other has it contained inside a cage of perforated shutters. One seems to hover on light, the other sits squat on its haunches like a monument.

The viewer moves from one to the other, as if following some pre-set programme to correct or refine initial impressions. Unsettling moire effects animate any movement.

Most disquieting is the manner in which both pieces are plugged into the gallery floor, making you wonder - are they powered by the building, or the building, even the city, powered by the pieces? When you're on your own with them, it's all quite unnerving. You really don't want to turn your back on them, just in case.

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