Beyond Barbican summer events: Dalston House by Leandro Erlich

A new art installation in east London that questions everyday reality through optical illusions, forms part of the Beyond Barbican summer events.
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Dalston House is at 1–7 Ashwin Street, E8, near Dalston Junction, until August 4, 12pm-6pm. Admission is free.

One of the upcoming trends in interiors is the use of illusion to distort perceptions and understanding of reality. The art of trompe l’oiel, where optical illusions are created using ordinary images, was used by the Greeks and Romans and is currently making a comeback in interior design and domestic objects.

The largest scale example of this is currently in Dalston, east London – a complete house that isn’t, by Argentinian artist Leandro Ehrlich – commissioned by the Barbican.

The fake life-size façade of a Victorian terraced house, complete with a door, windows, mouldings and other architectural details, which evokes the house that previously stood on the block, is actually lying on the ground with a mirrored surface, positioned overhead at a five-degree angle.

Londoners can climb up the wall of the house or hang off it, just by lying on the ground. They see themselves as scaling the brick work.

It’s a disturbing yet fascinating experience. “Illusion plays a role as a trigger, seducing the viewer to participate in the experience,” explains its creator Leandro Ehrlich. It questions “our understanding of reality: for me the question is not the mere opposition between the illusionary and the real, rather the understanding that what we call real, is also part of a construction. The mutual definition of both illusion and reality requires perception as a catalyst. Londoners are a very sophisticated audience when it comes to contemporary art. I expect people to be surprised, to enjoy, to think, to question.”

Play with the illusion at 1–7 Ashwin Street, E8, near Dalston Junction, until August 4, 12pm - 18pm. Admission is free.

Many interiors designers are playing with illusions to create eye-catching furniture, homeware and accessories. View the latest illusion trends here.

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