As absolutely wonderful as the performances at Spoleto are, the festival can wear you down.
Whether you're a rabid Spoletian darting from show to show, a member of the Spoleto orchestra lugging your cello from your AirBnB home to the day's venues, or a local just trying to get downtown for your weekly growler fix at the Charleston Beer Exchange, we all need a place to get away from it all.
Fortunately, I have just the spot to help you find a moment of zen amongst the Spoleto madness: Erwin Redl's current exhibition
at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.
Earlier today, I took a walk through downtown for a Spoleto dry run when I dropped in the Halsey to see Redl's LED installation. While I could go into more detail about the overall exhibit, I just don't feel any of that's necessary, particularly when talking about the individual pieces with any degree of weight is to impart unnecessary meaning to what is little more than a couple of delightful doohickies and a few tapestries.
This isn't a dig, mind you. Redl's light-based work is sure to tickle the fancy of your inner child, but it's not actually going to flood your brain with a deep thoughts — that is unless you find ping-pong balls to be a particularly imbued with meaning. Still, they are fun. And, sometimes, that's enough.
However, all of that is neither here not there. Just take a hard left when you enter the exhibition space. You'll have to duck under a set of black drapes and another and then stumble through the pitch-black darkness until you round another wall of cloth. Once inside, you'll find a work that involves a series of small cubes placed along the floor. One set is in a circle, another in a square, and the final a straight line. Needless to say, they light up according to various programmed sequences.
Across from the entrance, you'll find one of the benches — go to them. This may be hard to do considering the room is completely dark except for the pulses of light, but you can manage it easily enough once your eyes adjust. After you've found a spot, sit for a spell and focus on the lights, enjoy the darkness and the cooling AC, and let all of your worries just wash away. It works. Trust me.