Mark Wallinger, Threshold to the Kingdom, 2000
If there’s a hellishness to When Parallel Lines Meet at Infinity that makes it possible to see Mark Wallinger’s journey through the underground as a journey to the underworld, then his work Threshold to the Kingdom can be seen as representing an altogether better passage to a different world. The journey here is a simple one – through a set of automatic doors into the arrivals hall at London City Airport – but it is made in slow motion and to the accompaniment of glorious choral music which gives the arrival an uplifting feel. Some are greeted by friends, others pass through to continue their journey alone but there is a feeling of calm even when it briefly looks like paths might converge and collisions occur.
I know little* about choral music – or religion come to that – but two seconds on Google is enough to discover that the music here is a 1980 recording of Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ (‘Have mercy on me, oh god’, Psalm 51, first set to music by Allegri in about 1630) by the Tallis Scholars. And it’s pretty amazing. The power of choral singing is immense and its use here is a major part of what makes Threshold to the Kingdom so mesmerising; I’m pretty sure I’ve watched the work through three or four times on several occasions now. Admittedly the piece is only about 11 minutes long but even so that’s quite a lot of sitting staring at what is after all just people walking through an airport rendered in slow motion.
* Okay, nothing at all.