Kimsooja's new installation creates a tri-dimensional tableau. Light is diffracted into an iridescent color spectrum on the surface of its windows before reuniting inside the projection. "Cosa mentale - Imaginaries of Telepathy" offers a re-reading of the history or art from 1990 to modern day by exploring artists' fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion.
Curator: Emma Lavigne, director of Centre Pompidou-Metz
For the French-Korean Year, Centre Pompidou-Metz presents Kimsooja, one of the most influential multidisciplinary conceptual Korean artists of her generation.
Kimsooja's new installation takes on the unique architecture of Centre Pompidou-Metz to create a tri-dimensional tableau. Spanning the museum's entrance, the 80-meter-long Gallery 2 and the breadth of its two bay windows, the space of the gallery finds its utmost revelation as a transient path. Light is diffracted into an iridescent color spectrum on the surface of its windows before reuniting inside the projection of the artist's video piece To Breathe: Invisible Mirror, Invisible Needle (2006), a sequence of digital monochromatic color fields projected against an expanse of mirrored floor accompanied by the sound of a chorus of the artist's inhalation and exhalation, titled The Weaving Factory (2004).
Kimsooja has steadily devoted her 30-year career to transcending most current issues of identity, migration, and displacement into a life-long poem, while always looking beyond material condition and the act of making. Thinking of mirror as a medium to fold and unfold space and time—following the artist's use of wrapping belongings into travel bundles, known as Bottari in Korean—Kimsooja first made use of mirror for the Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann in 1999, where she reflected a loaded Bottari truck onto a wall-sized mirror that opened a virtual exit for the vehicle and wrapped the entire space of the Corderier in the Arsenale. The piece d'Aperttuto / Bottari Truck in Exile (1999) was dedicated to the refugees of Kosovo. She further explored the notion of wrapping and unwrapping by placing paralleled mirrors in an enclosed laundry installation with abandoned Korean bedcovers for A Mirror Woman in 2002. A Mirror Woman: The Ground of Nowhere, installed for the centennial of Korean Hawaiian immigrants at the Honolulu City Hall in 2003, explored the migratory experience by using mirrors to reflect the sky, which is nowhere and an unknown territory, onto the ground. Kimsooja enveloped the transparent architectural structure of the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid with mirrors and diffraction films for To Breathe: A Mirror Woman in 2006, and of the Korean Pavilion in Venice for To Breathe: Bottari in 2013.
For the last 30 years, Kimsooja has worked on an ever-evolving tableau, a continuation of the artist's early work with painting and drawing. The work presented at Centre Pompidou-Metz furthers her commitment to creating an encounter with the public, whose focus is a moment of active concentration, a revelation of one's body in space and time that defies horizontality and verticality. To Breathe, particularly in its latest installment at Centre Pompidou-Metz, seeks to be the sum of the artist's early meditation on painting, where the surface of the canvas is intuited to become a mirror that wraps body, space, and time, and where brushstrokes are destined to dematerialize into light. Kimsooja's enduring examination of dualism in life and art transforms elements of painting into a new language of light, sound, and mirrors in pursuit of totality.
26 October 2015 to 28 March 2016
Imaginaries of Telepathy of the 20th-Century Art
Curator Pascal Rousseau
Cosa mentale is a unique exhibition that offers a re-reading of the history or art from 1990 to modern day by exploring artists’ fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion. It invites the spectator to re-live one of the unexpected adventures of modernity: telepathic art in the 20th century. This exhibition traces a chronological path from symbolism to conceptual art with a collection of some one hundred works by major artists, ranging from Edvard Munch to Vassily Kandinsky, and from Joan Miró to Sigmar Polke. These artists provide innovative ways of communicating with spectators that take us beyond conventional linguistic codes.
The exhibition enables the spectator to understand how, throughout the 20th century, attempts to give material and visible form to thought processes coincide with the experiments of avant-garde artists. This fantasy of a direct projection of thought not only had a decisive impact on the birth of abstraction but also influenced surrealism and its obsession with the collective sharing of creation and, in the post war period, it gave rise to numerous visual and sound installations inspired by the revolution in information technology, leading to the declaration of “the dematerialisation of art” in conceptual practices.
The exhibition begins with the invention of the term “telepathy” in 1882, at a time when the study of psychology interacted with rapid developments in telecommunications. Endeavours ranged from the creation of “photographs of thought” in 1895 to the first “encephalograms” in 1924 (the year when the Surrealist Manifesto was published) and it was the actual activity of the brain which was to be shown in all its transparency, which encouraged artists to reject the conventions of representation by suppressing all restrictions of translation. Telepathy was far from remaining an obscure paranormal fantasy and consistently intrigued and enthralled artists throughout the 20th century. Always present in the world of science fiction, it resurfaced in psychedelic and conceptual art in the period from 1960 to 1970 before reappearing today in contemporary practices enraptured by technologies of “shared knowledge” and the rapid development of neuroscience.
Pascal Rousseau, professor of contemporary history of art at the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. Pascal Rousseau has also curated Robert Delaunay exhibitions: From impressionism to abstraction, 1906-1914, at the Centre Pompidou (1999) and To the origins of abstraction (1800-1914) at the Musée d’Orsay (2003).
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