James Turrell’s “Aural” at The Jewish Museum Berlin

April 24, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is something special, to experience a light installation of James Turrell live and in color. Since April 12th, the Jewish Museum is showing the installation “Aural” – an original from 2004. The artwork will be exhibited till September 30th of 2019.

It was Dieter and Si Rosenkranz, an art collector couple, who made the gift of this artwork to the museum. “Aural” has never been shown in this way and is currently to be seen in a temporary building in the museum’s garden during the stated period of time.

The time that „Aural“ was exposed in Valencia, one could only see it bathed in the color blue. For the exposition in the Jewish Museum, James Turrell amplified the walk-in installation with new colors, where you can now experience one of his “Ganzfeld Pieces”[1](“a German word to describe the phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out”) with 13.000 single LEDs on over 200m² for the first time in Berlin.

[1]http://jamesturrell.com/work/type/ganzfeld/

During the press conference, program director Léontine Meijer-van Mensch gets to the heart of it: “You need to take your time for Turrell.”

At first, the eyes need to get used to the change of color and the dematerialized state of this room with no dimensions and contours. Essentially, this artwork offers the possibility of seeing the museum as a “place of deceleration”. Nowadays the idea of decelerating can become part

Considering the meaning of the “Aural” for the museum, Peter Schäfer, director of the Jewish Museum straightens out: “As any good artist, Turrell does not dictate how to interpret his work.”

In Judaism, the symbolism of light has a high significance: It stands for the presence of God and goes way back to the creative act. In the wilderness sanctuary, before the construction of the Jerusalem temple, there was always a burning light. Still today, there is always the burning “eternal flame” (Hebrew: ner tamid) in the synagogue beside the Torah Shrine.

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Photos: Key visual portrait James Turrell, photo Grant Delin

Photos 2,4,5: James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo Florian Holzherr

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James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. As one of the most important contemporary artists, he dedicates all his work since over fifty years to the medium light. What matters most to Turrell in the examination of light, is the human perception of light. He aims to free the perception from any kind of associative and symbolic thinking.

In the end, what Turrell achieves with his “Perceptual Art”, as he himself describes it, is, that the perception itself becomes observed: “Seeing yourself see” is how James Turrell describes the experience of his Ganzfeld-installations. The “Aural” enables taking a look at the inside, as well as self-reflection and an almost trance-like state of observance.

Besides, Schäfer also refers to the kabbalah, Jewish mysticism.  Here, God is understood as an unrecognizable force at first – without beginning nor ending – who, initially appearing as a dark, colorless flame, becomes tangible and visible in the form of all the colors there are.

For those, who would like to see another although smaller Ganzfeld of James Turrell: You can do this at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden from June 9th till October 28th of 2018.

Less is more – New York’s Armory Show 2018

March 15, 2018

2018 Armory Show presented itself with a clear layout and less galleries than within the last years and was therefore very pleasant to visit. Up from the welcoming and uncomplicated New Yorker handling of invitations for the specialist audience and collectors who arrived from all over the world, the whole setting of the fair was extremely well organized. The layout of the booths with in between enough space for sculptural works, a great light design, bright carpeting and centrally located bars and lounges were not only photogenic but made the visitor feel very comfortable.

Armory is – like Frieze and Art Basel – one of the most important sales fairs and does not claim an overall overview of all contemporary art trends. On the contrary it communicates an idea of the sophisticated “must haves” of the new season. Lots of excellent art works from the 50s to the 70s such as small Gerhard Richter pieces (each over 600.000 Dollars), Cy Twombly’s, a huge Nam Jun Paik installation at Gagosian and beautiful David Hockney’s made modern art collectors’ hearts beat faster.

However the curated parts such as Focus and Platform/The Contingent also exhibited relevant contemporary art pieces against a political background. Very spectacular was the mural of the well-known French urban artist JR – a huge photo work presented by the Armory Show, Artsy and Deitch Projects- So Close mounted at the Armory buildings’ façade facing Ellis Island – which 12 million immigrants and refugees had passed between 1892 and 1954. It shows a vision of immigrants in a line, created with templates of old photographic Archive material of The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration and recently by JR taken pictures of Syrian refugee camps.

Some of the curated booth designs we liked were the ones of Wetterling (Stockholm, among others showing works of Jim Dine, photo left), Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, with works of Hannah van Bart and Hans Op de Beek) and Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, showing works by Japanese – Australian duo Ken + Julia Yonetani photo above).

Another eye-catching position was Cry Havoc by young South African artist Mary Sibande (gallery MOMO from Johannesburg and Cape Town, photo left) addressing women’s power boiling over. Last but not least and a discovery at least from a European point of view in the Focus section were the notable powerful collages, textiles and prints of the 1938 in the U.S. born Afro-American artist Emma Amos (at Ryan Lee Gallery, New York), working on gender, racial and geographical perspectives.

 

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J.R. photo: Teddy Wolff, courtesy of The Armory Show

Other photos: courtesy of GoArt! Berlin