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Dissolve in Nature Inside This Glass Structure

Uliana Apatina reinvents the idea of the "sacred space" with a permanent installation in the Welsh Coed Hills.

Anya Tchoupakov

Images courtesy the artist, via 

London-based Serbian artist Uliana Apatina has taken on the ambitious task of reinventing the idea of "sacred space." Atop the picturesque Welsh Coed Hills near the village of St. Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan, about 8 miles west of Cardiff, a structure made of “large Perspex sheets and stainless steel rods” stands “as a space of solitude and meditation [that] is simultaneously one of danger.” The danger, Apatina explains, lies in the viewers having “a chance to discover one’s own self from the unknown side.”

The project, fittingly titled Sacred Danger, is the product of the Kim Fielding Award, which “continues [Kim Fielding’s] legacy in the promotion of experimental contemporary arts practice and the nurturing of creative communities.” Apatina embodies the experimentality and community-driven nature of the award; in the past, she has created such installations as a dazzling wooden pavilion deep in the forests of Japan in the style of traditional temple gates, as well as other site-specific projects.

Morning Fog

Apatina’s website traces the process of the work with key words and phrases used for inspiration. The glass structure, which was engineered by Ivan Ivasjuk and magically built by Apatina and Simon Humphries in only ten days, reflects the light and temperature of the surrounding area in beautiful and transcendent ways. It looks different at every time of day and can be viewed from afar through a gap in the trees or from inside the glass corridor itself. The “structural engineering turn[s] straight corridor into exploded dragon [sic]" according to the artist, and reflects the dynamism of a moving dragon shape while simultaneously evoking the “misleading beauty of gothic cathedrals and underground caves” and the “sacred fear” that comes from intense mystical experience. Sacred Danger is at once mirror and window—it is a “corridor of danger perceived as a welcoming transparent cloud from a distance.” Once inside the structure, the viewer is “dissolving in nature,” which creates the unsettling feeling of losing individuality and physicality. According to Apatina, this is why religion was invented.

The idea in sketches

The Idea in Sketches

The physical space of Sacred Danger is only the first part of Apatina’s project. Part two she describes as a “multi-channel video installation… this immersive work will transpose the experience of the physical space of Part I into a very different interior space, taking viewers through a series of video projections and sound” as a way of continuing the conversation about space, involvement, community, and transcendence.     

See more photos of the installation below:

Sunset

“Dynamism of a dragon”

Sacred Danger is on view now. Full details of locations and times to visit can be found here.

See more of Apatina’s work on her website.

Learn more about the Kim Fielding award here.

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