Technological advances have altered our conception of space. As virtual worlds offered by VR provide alternative realities and social media networks act as new arenas for exchange, society beings to occupy new, digital landscapes. This is something that renowned practitioner James Turrell (b. 1943) has explored for decades. Testing the limits of spatial understanding, the artist creates colourful light-based installations that question notions of materiality and physical location. This month, a comprehensive exhibition at Museum Freider Burda, Baden-Baden, and accompanying publication by Hatje Cantz, combine key works from the practitioner’s prolific career.
Turrell’s large-scale, atmospheric pieces flood rooms with seas of colour, creating a seemingly endless field of light. By eliminating a sense of place, the works take audiences away from the tangible environment, encouraging introspective thought and self-awareness – a rare opportunity in a fast paced, media saturated landscape. The artist explains: “My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of worldless thought.”
The show at Museum Freider Burda comprises early works such as Sloan Red, a ground-breaking projection in which geometric objects appear to float in space. These pioneering pieces are accompanying by recent series, including 2016’s Wedgeworks and the “ganzfeld” experiment Apani, which mesmerised viewers at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The artwork offers an immersive experience, dissolving the contours of architectural space through light and colour.
The practitioner’s long-term project, Roden Crater, is also represented. The expansive “skyspaces” – framing devices offering views of the atmosphere – occupy an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert, which Turrell has been converting into an observatory for over forty years. Bridging the boundaries between art, architecture and science, it is constantly in a state of flux, adapting with and around the natural landscape to offer limitless possibilities in terms of colour, form and composition.
Until 28 October. Find out more here.
1. James Turrell, Ganzfeld APANI (Venice Biennial 2011), 2011, Installation, LED, 16 x 12 x 6m, Foto: Florian Holzherr ; Courtesy Häusler Contemporary München | Zürich.