by Sukanya GargApr 13, 2020
As I sit, writing this in the middle of a jungle, I ponder the strangely detached life we lead in our cities. Removed from sensorial experiences, numbed. Perhaps it is this feeling that has caused the immense rift between humankind and the natural environment, a condition pervasive in our communities today. While this cannot be undone, we are increasingly finding ourselves looking to reconnect with nature and invigorate our mind and senses. A walk in the forest would do the trick, but Karolina Halatek’s installation Field comes too close.
Presented at the Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen as part of Goldstucke Art Festival in the Ruhr area in Germany, Field stands as an experiment in recreating a visceral experience - one which attempts to reach within and share something primal. Halatek tells us about her intentions saying, “I wanted people to get detached from the ordinary chaotic surrounding and enter the space that is pure, abstract and surprising. Entering the installation increases the attention to the present moment, which then underlines the mindful character of the work. The form of the work follows the unexpected experience of the mindful illumination. White colour refers to the synthesis of the full spectrum of light, the square shape brings the order and stability. The fog that comes out in the middle of the installation balances with the solid light surface by the dynamic ephemeral nature. Fog provides action that involves the viewer, and floats away. I wanted to put an emphasis on the sensations that the installation evokes rather than its materiality. Entering the field of light could also have an aspect of getting into the spiritual field of the unknown, where the sense of presence is all that matters”.
Field reads as an island of light in a vacuum of darkness. The visually minimal nature of the installation builds an environment, which leaves the viewer lost and also heightened in their awareness. The artist discusses the meditative nature of the work, “The installation is intentionally soundless. The only sound that can be heard is a delicate noise from the fog machine.
Similar to my previous works, I want to provoke the moments of being present in silence as I believe that silence is the most powerful tool to be in harmony with yourself. I would say that in the overstimulated today's culture there is a deficiency of silence. People sometimes can get even uncomfortable or empty when there is no sound around them, but I see it as a chance to hear more subtle sounds, the chance to notice the sounds of the surrounding, own thoughts, or even reach the unconscious level from which the new thoughts can arise. As I mentioned before, the dialogue between stability versus constant change makes the work complete to me. I don't see the necessity of bringing more elements to it. The simplicity and reductiveness of the work allow the work to hold clarity, which can bring a sense of relief from the visually hectic environments”.
Field, being an outdoor light-based installation, transforms in the daytime. Halatek says, “In the daytime, the work becomes more as quasi-interactive sculpture rather than the light installation. The natural light dominates the electric light, so what becomes visible are the materials of the whole structure. This includes transparent mattresses, high-gloss reflective path and white lines of light. The transparency of the installation has also a formally symbolic dimension to me, as light in its character exists only when it meets the surface, the mattresses is holding the invisible air. Air and light in this combination are sculpting a space”. While this creates a new facet to the artwork, its visual prowess lies in the deep contrast between light and darkness which is dissolved in the daytime.
The artwork looks to revitalise the viewer’s energy, returning feeling to their sensory requirements. The artist shares, “Most of them are close to a kind of amazement, people get hypnotised and become playful. I am interested in expanding the traditional forms of perceiving art, provoke viewers to become more involved during the art show, let the viewers cross the barriers between them and the artwork. I really enjoy the reactions of seemingly serious viewers who start to behave very relaxedly and excited to become a central part of the artwork”.
The exhibit ended on October 4, 2020.