Memory and Knowledge Intertwine in Chiharu Shiota’s Immersive String Installations
In Signs of Life, a dense installation of knotted and wound string fills much of Galerie Templon’s New York space. The work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota (previously), the solo show transforms the gallery into a monochromatic labyrinth of intricate mesh that ascends from floor to ceiling. Shiota considers the multivalent meaning of the web, from the structure of neural networks within the human brain to the digital realm today’s world relies on.
One of the works features bulging cylinders and dangling threads in red, while another white structure traps numerous book pages within its midst. Created during a two-week period, Shiota envisions the installation as connecting personal memory and the collection of knowledge. “I always thought that if death took my body, I wouldn’t exist anymore,” she says. “I’m now convinced that my spirit will continue to exist because there is more to me than a body. My consciousness is connected to everything around me, and my art unfolds by way of people’s memory.” The show also includes previously unseen drawings and sculptures, many of which contain quotidian objects that prompt questions about how items become meaningful, sentimental, and precious with use.
Signs of Life is on view through March 9. You can find more from Shiota on her site and Instagram.
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A Prismatic Installation of LED Lights Mimics a Chameleon’s Color-Changing Scales
Hundreds of individual cells shaped like bursting stars comprise a new kaleidoscopic installation by the creative studio SOSO. A project for a San Diego real estate company, “Chameleon Wall” imitates the small reptile by changing color in a dynamic dance of pigment and light. As seen in the video below, the LED-illuminated work seamlessly shifts from gold to teal to bright pink in an array of organic patterns. SOSO shares that “Chameleon Wall” also has an interactive component and is capable of interpreting SMS messages from viewers and crafting a pixelated field of color related to the prompt.
For more of the studio’s digital projects, visit its site.
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Elaborate Towers Emerge from Basic Building Blocks in Raffaele Salvoldi’s Architectonic Installations
In January 2021 in the middle of Italy’s second Covid-19 lockdown, photographer and director Raffaele Salvoldi’s work took a different turn. “That was a tough time since I wasn’t working and had a lot of free time. So, I started to build small forms to keep my hands and mind busy,” he tells Colossal, sharing that he tapped into the nostalgic, childhood activity of tinkering and stacking simple wood blocks.
At the base of Salvoldi’s towering, temporary installations is a single component: KAPLA planks. Devised by a Dutch antique dealer in the late 1960s, KAPLA are an alternative to chunkier blocks that make it easier to build long or horizontal features like lintels and roofs. Initially, Salvoldi started with a set of 1,000 of the wooden construction bricks, and as he amassed thousands more, his constructions became increasingly voluminous. Spiraling columns, delicate towers, and airy apertures emerge gradually from a foundation on the floor, and the structures are often illuminated from inside and reveal dramatic effects in cavernous spaces. Each piece responds to its environment, drawing the eye upward to unique settings like the historic, neoclassical Casa Bossi. “The only limit is your imagination and, of course, gravity,” he says.
One of Salvoldi’s installations can take between three weeks and four months to complete, and rather than opening a show with a completed work, viewers are invited to observe as he adds piece after piece over time. “I believe it isn’t just a performance, rather a kind of a window on an artistic process,” he says. “That’s why I like to define it as a living, mobile room or atelier that people can visit and see the installation growing day after day, week after week.” When a show closes and the work must be disassembled, visitors are invited to deconstruct the installation by throwing additional planks at it until it crumbles, or the artist will devise a domino-like path of KAPLA that strikes at the foundations.
In May 2022, Salvoldi founded the project Wood Arc through which he continues his research into architectural and structural forms. Between February 12 and April 2, he will exhibit a new work at the 16th-century Villa Bono, just north of Novara, Italy. Find videos and more of his work on Instagram, and learn more about the project on his website.
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A Massive Illuminated Eye of 100,000 Lights Twinkles Above a Madrid Plaza
Now on view in Madrid’s Plaza de Canalejas is a gleaming eye that peers both downward at those who pass underneath its red-and-blue canopy and upward at the sky. Extending across more than 2,000-square-meters, the temporary site-specific installation is the project of design studio Brut Deluxe, which strung 100,000-plus LED lights into a web of color that hovers nine meters above ground. Mimicking the center of an eye, “Iris” is comprised of the main concentric circles pocked by anatomical anomalies like wrinkles and grooves, with flickering bulbs spread across its expanse.
Watch the video above too see the dynamic elements in action, and explore an archive of Brut Deluxe’s projects on its site. (via designboom)
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Artist Harmonia Rosales Reinterprets Genesis through a Stunning Subversion of the Sistine Chapel
At the heart of Garden of Eve, Harmonia Rosales’ comprehensive exhibition at UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills, is the power of narrative. The show spans years of Rosales’ career, featuring dozens of portraits in oil and perhaps the grandest work she’s produced thus far: encircled with lights, an upturned ship towers over the gallery, allowing viewers to pass underneath and peer upwards at the frescoed expanse.
Referencing the vessels utilized in the transatlantic slave trade, the lofty structure re-envisions the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and uses Michaelangelo’s Renaissance works as a blueprint to recast Genesis through the lens of female empowerment and Orishas, deities in religions of the African diaspora. Dozens of Rosales’ paintings, like “Birth of Eve” and her 2017 “Creation of God” that garnered viral attention, cloak the ship with a narrative that’s both widely recognizable and subversive in its telling, with Black and Latinx subjects at the center. “I didn’t want it to be a chapel ceiling because then that’s against everything I’m trying to convey, especially with this Yoruba religion,” Rosales shares with Colossal. “So why not put it on the undercarriage of a slave ship, the very thing that brought these stories to us?”
Now based in Los Angeles, Rosales has roots in Chicago, the city where she began pursuing her art practice full-time and where she first conceived of the installation. Five years in the making, the project is a testament to the artist’s dedication to long-term thinking. Her process is relatively slow and requires as much research as hours at the easel, meaning she generally produces less than ten works each year. Back then, Rosales says, “I was trying to hide behind my paintings. I was thinking that, okay, if I just paint, people will understand that, but I knew I had to really speak on the paintings myself. This time allowed me to feel comfortable and to curate my message better in a way where all can understand.”
Rosales has long been concerned with communication and comprehension, particularly as she brings lesser-known deities into the mainstream and elevates such religious figures to the status of those within ancient Greco-Roman myth and the Christian iconography that have dominated much of art history. “All along, with all of these exhibitions, I was creating puzzle pieces, pieces to the Sistine Chapel,” she says about the smaller paintings. “Now people can go back and really understand it.”
Many of the works collapse time periods and blend references, like “Forbidden Fruit,” which centers on a woman encircled in a gold halo eating a slice of the pink melon. “Ever wonder why watermelon became a cruel stereotype?” Rosales asks. “It was the one fruit that symbolized Black self-sufficiency after emancipation.” Similarly, the titular work, “Garden of Eve,” centers on Yemaya, the mother of all Orishas in the Yoruba faith. Shielding her face from the chaos of children and florals, the spirit witnesses “the disruption of her perfect garden, (which) intentionally parallels the disruption of the African continent.”
Ultimately, Rosales wants to question dominant Eurocentric narratives and to expose that the Orishas and religions she’s referencing are as old, enduring, and relevant as others. “What came first? Why have these gods been hidden? Why haven’t they been mainstreamed?” she posits. “To hide these gods, thus our identity, it’s keeping us in check. The more that they get out, the more that we are realizing that this is old. It strengthens us as a whole.”
Garden of Eve is up through November 30 in Beverly Hills. Rosales will continue working within stories of creation as she prepares for her solo show opening in March at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Until then, find more from her on Instagram.
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Ride EJ Hill’s Bubblegum Pink Roller Coaster Through a Mass MoCA Gallery
Throughout the Jim Crow era, Black people were often barred entry to recreation spaces like public swimming pools and amusement parks. As these sites of leisure and joy were officially desegregated following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, those who continued to champion separation imposed new restrictions to control access to such areas. This included charging high fees to even enter the parks rather than smaller prices per ride, a practice that’s still widely in use today and has proliferated to other cultural arenas like museums.
Artist EJ Hill considers the racialized legacy of such entertainment through Brake Run Helix, the Los Angeles-based artist’s largest solo show to date and first at an institution. On view through January 2024 at the Massachusettes Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition revolves around the roller coaster as a way to excavate the history of identity, recreation, and pleasure. Through sculptures, installations, paintings, and smaller works, Hill considers the rides “public monuments to the possibility of attaining joy,” a feeling that is necessary for creating an equitable society.
The center of Brake Run Helix—this title references the mechanisms that slow or stop the cars and the 360-degree turn within the track—is a 260-foot bubblegum pink roller coaster. “Brava!” allows for a single rider, who emerges on a bright blue cart through a velvet curtain before plummeting a few feet and riding the undulating architecture through the Building 5 gallery.
Hill sees these rides as a sort of solo performance by museum visitors, who are propelled by gravity around the course before halting on a wooden stage in front of viewers. “I’m no longer interested in being the one to perform for a ravenous audience who wants to either celebrate me or consume me,” the artist told The New York Times in reference to earlier projects that involved him standing or lying atop an artwork for long periods. “I’m making this elaborate stage for other people to perform while I collect myself and recharge.”
Hill’s manner of inhabiting the world as a Black, queer person is also reflected in the pastel pink that runs throughout the exhibition, considering the pigment is traditionally associated with the feminine. “I feel like I understand bodily threat in a very real way. Every day when I leave my place, the threat to my bodily existence is palpable,” he said in that same interview, sharing that the interactive installation is a way “to bring people as much as I can to understanding what that feels like, but in a space of joy, of being a human in the world.”
For more of Hill’s multi-disciplinary works, visit his site and Instagram.
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