There's Here
Site specific installation at Artspace, Richmond, Virginia, 2002

There’s Here is a contemplation of the here and now via a cartoonish depiction of the afterlife. Responding to the unique architectural space of Artspace, Carolyn Henne created an environment in which the visitor moves through hell and into the heavens but never actually enters earth.

Henne uses installation to slow and extend viewer interaction allowing for a time-released experience. Viewers/visitors can linger long enough to get to the point of responding to the piece almost peripherally, surrationally - as when one daydreams. This provides opportunities for ideas/feelings to perhaps sneak up or just be recognized.
To accommodate this Henne uses several strategies. She fabricates low-tech devices. The viewer has to spend little time marveling at the feat. One gets past that quickly but the image is still compelling. She also uses low-key interactive elements that change as the visitor moves through the space or sits down. Sitting allows a change of perspective; the viewer becomes less self-aware, and may spend more time in the space.

The installation occupied the two large galleries on the 1st and 2nd floors, the mezzanine and the opening in the ceiling of the 1st floor gallery and the floor of the 2nd floor gallery. The downstairs gallery is the “underworld” or “hell”, the upstairs is the “celestial vault“ or “heaven”, and “earth” is suspended between.

Click to watch a video of There's Here.

scroll for more images

 
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One enters There’s Here downstairs – “hell” (14’ x 20’ x 42’)

 
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A “flaming” chaise is the centerpiece.

 
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As one lays down on the heated surface, one’s perspective changes, looking up at a transparent floating figure beyond which are two tiers of turbines with a fan in the middle.

 
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The chaise is made up of several layers of pigmented gels and petroleum jelly (each having different viscosities, moving at different rates when responding to the weight and heat of the body). When one rises, one’s trace remains in the flames of the chaise.

 
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The fan fills the fabric sphere that is “earth”. The floating figure seems to breathe through subtle movement caused by the fan pulling air from the space below. (Suspended Self Portrait is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Health and Medicine)

 
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Moving to the second floor (14’x 20’x 42’), one enters the “heavens” where there are a number of elevated chairs. Each chair
is upholstered in white. When one sits, wings will inflate and remain inflated until one stands up.
Viewed from the heavens, in the center of the opening is “earth”.

There is an animation projected onto the surface of “earth” from within. Inside the sphere are two tiers.
On each are 23 lamps with rotating lamp “shades“. This results in 46 separate rotating and projected images.

 
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Because the sphere acts as a shared projection screen, images overlap and melt into one another. The first tier
is a series of landscape images, giving the sense that the “earth” is turning. The second tier is a series of 23
cartoon portraits of the artist - from infancy to age 90.

 
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Projection detail

 
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Projection detail

 
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Mezzanine

 
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The piece can be viewed in it’s entirety from the mezzanine (20’ x 21’ x 11’) where gold and silver bleachers are provided for
the spectator to take in the piece and the other visitors as they interact with various elements in the
environment.