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”(“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.
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.
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.
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.
Photos: Key visual portrait James Turrell, photo Grant Delin
Photos 2,4,5: James Turrell, Ganzfeld Aural, 2018; © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo Florian Holzherr