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When: April 10-May 17 2014
As a child, artist Nick Dong would roll his eyes at his father when he would ask him to perform Buddhist rites meant to further his journey toward enlightenment. Later, he thought, what if he could make an object that could bring someone enlightenment instantly? With that in mind, Dong began hand-making 10,000 convex porcelain tiles, reciting a Buddhist mantra for each. These eventually went into his immersive installation titled “En-lightening,” which is now on view at Mercury 20 (475 25th St., Oakland). The viewer steps through a white door into a dark, windowless room. Inside, a cushioned stool is dimly illuminated. Once the viewer sits down, the room gradually brightens to reveal an interior made entirely of shining white tiles and mirrors, which begin reverberating with quasi-spiritual humming. The effect is a surreal yet calming, not unlike what one might imagine achieving enlightenment would feel like. Along with “En-lightening,” Dong is also showing “Be-longing,” a lit-up, reflective staircase surrounded by mirrors. It’s meant to create an interactive, spatial metaphor for the feeling of longing for intimacy. Both exquisitely executed installations are mind-bending, sublime, and enchanting.
— Sarah Burke


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