by Sukanya GargSep 05, 2020
At any gallery or museum space, lighting is of utmost importance. It can either make or break the experience as a whole. At HoloCenter’s recent exhibition Edge of Light, lighting takes on a whole new meaning. Curated by New York-based artist Jonathan Sims, the show revolves around light-based artworks. In a shift away from the norm, Sims developed a dark space wherein the artworks are allowed to stand in their own light, elevating the viewer’s ability to engage with the work at hand.
Sims discussed his personal relationship with light as mode and medium, and how his journey with it developed over the years, spanning curatorial and artistic interests. He says, “I have been using projection since around 2015, but a more mature interest in the materiality of light really developed in the last three years. I have always felt that light has a timelessness and a more immediate capacity for emotional resonance than other media, both of which are major themes in my work. Working in light is also a very different process from the paintings I started with a decade ago. The most beautiful qualities of light art are also the most difficult to control; the reflections, refractions and subtleties are impossible to separate from the materials and technology. It demands collaboration from the artist instead of control — I can only request or invoke the light to produce something truly sublime, and even then, the moment is almost always ephemeral and irreproducible. There are many artists who share a similar love for light art, but it is also difficult to find spaces that understand and are willing to engage its inherent technological and curatorial challenges. So, I was partially driven by a desire to create a dedicated dark space for us and prove that it can be done, but also to cultivate a community of artists who often don’t get a chance to join group shows. I have been very lucky to find a partner in Martina Mrongovius, the director of the Holocenter”.
Edge of Light brings together artists who experiment with light and image making, presenting a range of light-based installations, sculptural projections and other site-specific artworks. The curation includes various forms of light like neon, ultraviolet, experimental projection, stereoscopy and other manipulations, stretching and expanding our notion of what the material is capable of. The exhibition includes works by the likes of Emily Andersen, Ed Bear, Shohei Katayama and Nooshin Rostami among others. The inauguration of the display took place through a virtual opening, a common approach to the event as a result of the ongoing pandemic, highlighted by an audiovisual performance by Tetsu Collective.
Sims told us about the artist collective saying, “Testu Collective are artists, but they are also very successful curators in their own sphere of audiovisual performance… Testu have an incredible dedication to experimental media and sound and every performance explores something new. For this show they have made art by employing polarised light filters, a setup more typically used in engineering for analysing material stresses…”.
While light is a captivating material, working with it is a delicate dance. Used properly it can be a rather arresting visual experience, but when not harnessed it can often overpower the intention of the artist itself. Sims tell us about Nooshin Rostami, an artist whose work stands apart from the rest at Edge of Light, “From Rostami’s statement: “Zamân is a light drawing, an abstract narrative of passage of time as a dynamic cosmic scenery. The installation invites you to look far into the distance and imagine an extraterrestrial landscape where the horizon line is like calm waters and the sky is a time-lapse of rotating elements of outer space,” he says.
Sims continued, “I was thrilled to finally get to work with Rostami. The work inherits a long history of lumia light art, but Zamân grew from the emotional reflection and meditation in her process combined with a rigorous aesthetic intent to explore space and composition. All of the components of the work have been deeply considered, and the light drawings and movement are intimately connected to the exact arrangement of the sculptural elements and light sources, the ultimate result of every alteration and choice made during its installation. I think that this truth is revealed in all the other work in Edge of Light. The light that emanates from each is fully revealing and completely unique. Some of the pieces are able to be recreated or re-exhibited in ways that are close to their current configurations, but they are inextricable from their temporal nature, and will never be seen the same way again”.
Edge of Light will be on display at Plaxall Gallery in Long Island, New York, until December 27, 2020.