La Puerta del Angel

Site specific installation
Instituto de San Isidro
Edge Biennial, Madrid Cultural Capital of Europe, 1992

La Puerta del Angel, detail
  • A. The courtyard  
    • Two colour photographs on aluminium suspended back to back over the well.  
    • Artificial vegetation with silver and gold reflections on the well.  
    • Black earth around the well.  
    • 40 rectangular mirrors 60 X 30 cm were placed on the floor of the courtyard reproducing the X design of the floor and reflecting the building and the sky.  
    • Four blue spheres, 30 cm diameter each, placed on the 4 ends of the mirror X.  
  • B. The crypt 
    • A colour photograph 80 X 80 cm situated above the door of the crypt.  
    • Miniature light bulbs around the door.  
    • The floor of the crypt, 490 X 260 cm is covered by a mirror.  
    • Thirteen alcoves (arcosolia), tombs, with installations of objects:  
      • - miniature light bulbs 
        - crystals 
        - greek metal votives 
        - mirrors (round and triangular) 
        - fluorescent blue butterflies from Brazil. 
    • Three colour photographs 80 X 80 cm on aluminium are situated over the alcoves.  

    • On the floor at the left: a heap of black earth with fragrant lilies.

The installation in situ commissioned by the Edge Biennial in "Madrid 92, Cultural Capital of Europe", is part of The Angel Cycle. It is entitled La Puerta del Angel and took place in the San Isidro Institute, a 16th century cloister next to the Madrid cathedral. The installation occupied two spaces: the courtyard and the crypt. 
The architecture of the courtyard is based on the square, the X or cross (design on the floor), the octagon (well) and a repetition by four of the number five (arcades). The arch is a prevailing formal element. Symmetrical, this space evokes sacred principles of harmony. These architectural principles were sustained by sculptural elements specially created and assembled: mirrors, spheres, vegetation. 

A tribute to a remote ancestor, the Cretan El Greco: in the frame over the well was placed a processed photograph of a detail of an El Greco painting - the painterís young son seen on the foreground of The Burial of Count Orgaz. The boy was pointing to the direction of The Door. 

The Door of the Angel - La Puerta del Angel - is the door leading to the crypt. The point of transition from the exterior to the interior, from daylight to obscurity, from the open to the closed (and however open), from the large to the small (and however large). Transition from one world to another, the door was framed with light. 

The crypt is an abandoned, unknown archaeological site. It has a surface of approximately 12m2 on the floor, an arched ceiling and 13 arched alcoves (arcosolia) on its main central wall. A narrow flight of steps permits to discover the crypt gradually. Immersion. The crypt is a sacred space, its alcoves conceal ancient tombs. 

The small dimension reminds byzantine sanctuaries. The central front wall was treated as an iconostasis (A partition with doors and tiers of icons that separates the "bema" from the nave in eastern churches), a frontier between two worlds, the mundane and the imaginal. 

Photographs of the Angel hung on that surface: colour photographs treated by chemical processes attributing to the contemporary object which is photography, an archaeological relief. Tubes of miniature light bulbs and votive objects were placed in the alcoves. A mirror covering entirely the floor interdicted any further approach of the iconostasis. In the mirror was reflected the inversed double of the space. Fragrance of fresh flowers placed on a heap of black earth in a corner of the floor. 

The child points to the Secret. 
For what do we see? 
A blindfolded Renaissance figure 
of the In Between 
(in between the sexes, in between the worlds). 
The well suggests the Underground (Water). 
The crypt as well (Earth). 
Underground matrix. 
La Puerta del Angel: a meditation space.
M. K. - K. T. 
Madrid 1992

La Puerta del Angel, detail
La Puerta del Angel, detail
All photos by Klonaris/Thomadaki unless otherwise stated
Photos 1 & 3: La Puerta del Angel, detail
Photo 2: La Puerta del Angel, detail [photo of the installation by Peter Barker] 

Le Cycle de l'Ange (1985-2013)
The Angel Cycle

Texts and photos: copyright Maria Klonaris/Katerina Thomadaki. All rights reserved.