21 January – 11 March 2023
8001 Zurich · Switzerland
21 January – 11 March 2023
With her installation To Breathe – Zurich Kimsooja inscribes her work in the architecture of Galerie Tschudi. She utilizes the architectural surfaces of the space as the material support for her ‘painting’. All the windows facing the street have been covered in light-diffraction grating film: “This particular film has thousands of vertical and horizontal lines in every inch. It has a woven structure and functions like a prism, creating iridescent light when light passes through it.” (Kimsooja in conversation with Hou Hanru, 2017). The artist also tiled the floor of the gallery with mirror panels. These reflect the ceiling of the space downwards and create the illusion of a dizzying depth. The floor seems almost to dissolve: it appears like a liquid surface, in which the viewers are simultaneously reflected on an unfamiliar vertical axis. The space is otherwise empty – and yet, it is full .
The weather and the shift from day to night are fundamental aspects of the work. When the sky is overcast, the view from the outside into the gallery may seem unremarkable – but that changes as soon as the clouds disperse and rays of sunlight spark a colourful play of light on the window pane, or when the light spectrum of the interior is visible outside in the dark. Looking from the inside towards the city street outside, we experience not just a spectacular play of colour and light, especially the lights of passing cars, but also a surprising multiplication of all that moves. Passers-by, for example, are joined by colourful, transparent apparitions of themselves. Transcendence, time, space, and continuous transformation are immanent in the work.
At the same time, To Breathe – Zurich makes tangible the sparkling, iridescent, richly colourful qualities of light. “This is one of my investigations into the structure of painting, of canvas, and of color and pigment in relation to light.” (Kimsooja in conversation with Hou Hanru, 2017). What is light? How can light be grasped, understood, described? The most sophisticated theories in physics can only provide an approximation of the phenomenon of light. Part of the essence of light is its ambiguity: wave or particle. Light is immaterial, intangible and cannot be localised. The installation allows us to experience the mystery of light.
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