Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade deconstructs time, space and the very fabric of the universe in her exhibition ENTITAS.
Going up König Galerie’s concrete steps, surrounded with its cold walls and brutalist structure, always creates a kind of suspenseful build-up. The gallery was once St. Agnes, a church of the Christian faith; now, it operates as a temple for Berlin art believers: metaphor overlapping with reality.
As you walk, there’s a short and silent moment of recollection before seeing whatever lies ahead in this odd, clean-cut building. This time though, an ominous pounding sound growing steadily louder resonates as we ascend towards Alicja Kwade’s latest Berlin show, ENTITAS.
Time, space, and the essence of things
A few steps more and we’re in the grey, high-ceilinged chapel. What jumps to the eye first is the very source of the deep, clunky pulse that has been both intriguing and oddly weighing on our consciousness. A huge clock and a rough boulder hang down from the ceiling from chains and circle above visitors’ heads to the rhythmic ticking of the sweeping clock hand, amplified. The weight of time itself.
Throughout the huge room are sculptures of wood, stone, metal and glass: tree trunks transformed mid-way into a stool or a walking stick; wide metal rings frozen in an ascending motion; a row of massive stones gradually morphing shapes and shifting materials; large silver tubes bound with concrete, spitting out little blue planets made of stone; long copper bars fixed mid-air in their progressive fall… Objects that seem to carry their own transformation or movement, caught in between stages, frozen in between two blinks of an eye, or as if a glitch in our perception made several phases overlap.
Here, the essence of time, space and objects are dissected, the artistic interpretation of science giving birth to poetic installations.
Alicja Kwade, materializing the imperceptible
Over and over, the Berlin-based Polish artist transfers scientific and philosophical questioning into artistic concepts, playing with theories of parallel universes, the relativity of time and space or the emptiness of matter. The result, rooted in the materiality of her sculptural work, is often stunning. She makes complex concepts graspable by our minds and tangible to our senses, a tour de force of illusion.
With ENTITAS (“entity” in Latin), Kwade raises questions of physicality, perception and the reality of matter itself. Where does an object begin or end? What is movement without our own interpretation of it? What is the essence of things? How are things created out of nothingness?
One of my favourite piece of the exhibition, Trans-For-Men 8 (Fibonacci) deconstructs the essence of a stone, replicating it in eight different versions, aligned and separated by mirrors. Each version acts as a “state” of the stone, transforming into a perfect black marble sphere on one side and a shiny copper octahedron on the other. As the shapes shift and the materials contrast, the mirrors act both as thin separations of alternate realities and as visual connectors. Each mirrored reflection bridges to the next object, creating an incredible physical continuity between the different shapes.
Appetite for the cosmos
The experience was a mix of awe and mind-bending stimuli. The fascination is real. One walks around each piece in silence, eating with the eyes, absorbing the visions. But why is that? What gives this odd assortment of form and matter such a strong hold on us? Could it be that our hands itch to touch and feel the surfaces of shiny brass, polished stones or meticulously crafted wood, yet we’re only afforded the satisfaction of a distant gaze? Or could it be that the eyes try to feast on what is normally not given to be seen, realities that our senses can’t naturally grasp? We are suddenly like children, humbled by the infinite possibilities hidden in the world we live in, euphoric to break down the wall of perception and let our minds run loose.
There is a human appetite for seeing behind the fabric of the cosmos and beyond the limitations of our senses, and Kwade, through her explorative work, lifts the veil, or so it seems.
The exhibition ENTITAS in König Galerie is already finished, but don’t miss future chances to get a glimpse beyond time and space, into the very fabric of reality with Alicja Kwade’s fascinating installations.