Since the rise of modernism in the late 19th and early 20th century, artists were interested in exploring the possibilities of presenting the movement with other artistic means and that is how kinetic art was constituted. This tendency was inseparable from technological advancements of the time, and it reached its peak throughout the 1960s. The American movement that emerged at that time, Light and Space, was based on the domains of geometric abstraction, minimalism, and op art; it brought numerous artists including James Turrell, who became its leading proponent.
Throughout the years, Turrell released outstanding and technologically complex projects aimed to extend our physical and mental understanding of the perceptual phenomenon. Although sometimes puzzling and intellectually demanding, his work tends to offer an engaging transformative experience and for that performativity, it becomes open for a myriad of interpretations.
To revisit his longstanding practice, Museo Jumex decided to host a sort of a retrospective focused solely on the immersive light installations the artist made over the last forty years.
By treating the light as a tool, James Turrell produces expansive colored environments that require physical presence. The artist approaches light from a scientific position and explores how does this phenomenon affects the gaze; what kind of sentiment it can evoke. The installations become spaces for meditative purposes where categories of time and space become irrelevant and offer a unique and potentially transcending experience to the observer.
For this particular exhibition, Turrell’s new works from the most important series will be presented throughout two floors of the museum’s galleries.
On display will be one of the artist’s most important installation series Ganzfeld where vibrant color fields practically abolish the surrounding architecture. On the other hand, Dark Space will, as the title suggests, provide barley any light so that images can appear from within the eye.
The installment will also include early experimental works from the 1960s to more recent large-scale installations. For instance, the installations that were conceived at Turrell’s Mendota Hotel studio where, during the late 60s and early 70s, where the artist started developing mechanisms of controlling projected and reflected light in order to establish space. Alongside the recent developments, all of these installations show the continuity and the technological advancement made possible by digital holography and computer-controlled lighting.
On display will also be a documentation and models of Turrell’s best-known work in progress, The Roden Crater, based on the modification of volcano terrain into an open-air observatory.
This exhibition will underline the artist’s constant interest in the latest innovations and the ways they can be used for art purposes especially in the context of Turrell’s own description of his projects as behind-the-eyes seeing.
James Turrell: Passages of Light will be on display at Museo Jumex in Mexico City from 22 November 2019 until 29 March 2020.
Featured images: James Turrell - Accretion Disk, 2018; Apani, 2011. From the Ganzfeld series; Rondo (Blue), 1969. From the Shallow Space Constructions series; © James Turrell. Photos: Florian Holzherr. All images courtesy Museo Jumex.