This project and the essay that introduces it (see linked eBook file below) was originally conceived around September 2013. It was selected by the Elizabeth Foundation for its 2013/14 exhibition season and opened in April 2014. The exhibition also consisted of a series of guided visits by Guggenheim educator Georgia Krantz, an expert in art education for the visually impaired in which a selection of the presented works was experienced by sighted visitors via the same techniques used by Georgia in her “Mind’s Eye” programs. The exhibition was closed with a sound performance by John Holmok ensenble. Infinite thanks to Michelle Levy, Claire Barliant and Lauren Bierly for their continuous input and support to the project.
April 4 – May 17, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014, 6-8pm
Artists: Joe Brittain, John Cage, Mia Goyette, Vladimir Havrilla, Rachel Higgins, Music Animation Machine (Stephen Malinowski), Mamiko Otsubo, Irgin Sena, Slobodan Stošić, Alina Tenser
Curated by Marco Antonini
This group exhibition takes its title from Vasily Kandinsky’s Several Circles, a 1926 painting that epitomizes Kandinsky’s co-optation of geometric form, a consequence of his exposure to Russian Constructivism and to the unfolding utopias that defined the cultural and social climate of the October Revolution. Geometry, for the author of Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane, was a way to access and communicate universal truths and feelings.
Kandinsky also believed there was a correspondence among forms, colors, and sounds. (“The circle,” he wrote in a letter to a friend, “is simultaneously loud and soft.”) This phenomenon is known as synesthesia, which is often deemed a neurological condition, and occurs when the stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary stimulation in another sense. An example of synesthesia is “hearing” colors. This exhibition takes this theory a step further. Recent scientific evidence indicates that the word synesthesia has been incorrectly used to describe connections among stimuli that are in fact induced by semantic representations. The artworks in “Several Circles” are aligned with the newer diagnosis of ideaesthesia: a phenomenon in which concepts evoke perception-like experiences. In other words, these concepts—such as a letter inducing color in the mind’s eye, as learned from refrigerator-magnet alphabets at an early age, or understanding “mu5ic” as “music,” by exchanging the letter “s” with the number “5”—trigger reactions that we believe we comprehend through our senses.
If such perception-events are more about ideas and concepts—our own, or those we glean through interactions with different communities or society at large—to what extent would notions such as popular visual tropes, specific cultural references, or language itself tend to be associated with physical sensations? And how?
The works chosen for this exhibition connect not only sight, hearing, taste, touch, and scent, but reach out to a cosmos of “other” senses defined by the artists’—and our own—understanding of reality, and ways to make meaning of it. Apart from their ideaesthetic qualities, the works are unified by the recurrent use of the circular form, a trait d’union suggesting the possibility of a networked reading of the whole exhibition. Kandinsky’s talismanic Several Circles will appear in the exhibition in many different forms, serving as connective tissue among the objects and images on display.
Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm-6pm (Not open Friday, April 18, 2014)
Friday, April 4, 6:00pm “Several Circles” Opening Reception
Thursday, April 24, 6:45pm “Several Circles” Sensory Tour I by Georgia Krantz
Thursday, May 1, 6:45pm “Several Circles” Sensory Tour II by Georgia Krantz
Thursday, May 8, 6:45pm “Several Circles” Sensory Tour III by Georgia Krantz
Friday, May 16, 7:00pm ( 0 ) and ( ( ), sometimes played in unison