The Yuz Museum presents “ReReason” by Alicja Kwade, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Asia. The exhibition features 24 artworks, including 5 monumental installations from the collection of the Yuz Foundation. Kwade questions seemingly immutable and unshakable realities through an innovative artistic language that assembles quotidian objects to deconstruct phenomena that human beings have accustomed themselves to in modern life. She invites the audience to breakaway from logical frameworks to scrutinize objects for new attainments, to re-imagine, re-think and re-query existing notions, and to re-explore the very nature of things.
Alicja Kwade introduces “ReReason,” attaching the Latin prefix “re” to the English word “reason,” with the intention of reviewing reason and reapplying dialectical thoughts. Under Kwade’s deconstruction, the things that we take for granted and the logics that we deem unassailable are gradually opened up, and a fissure revealed in their construction for rethinking. Her visualisation is far and wide, ranging from individual lives to the vast universe. Faced with these complex issues, she accurately reduces them into a rational but poetic artistic style, like simplifying a conundrum into a sensible formula through numerous calculations, deductions and reductions. As a result, many of her works are titled by mathematical terms, such as Saga (Spira Mirabilis), the sizeable installation that the exhibition starts with. This work consists of planar and linear daily objects made of wood, glass, steel, copper and mirror, and all those objects bend towards the centre to comprise an array as if a mysterious force dwelling in the centre unseen were coercing the materials. Those objects that stand still seem to be in an unnatural display, but centripetal force is not rare in the natural world; for example, the earth revolves round the sun, the wavelets ripple from a central point, and, as with the Spira Mirabilis formula, vectors multiplied by a certain function spiral around a fixed point and create graceful curves in a coordinate. Kwade utilizes the generally forgotten natural phenomenon to cleverly connect everyday articles with a cosmic power, employing familiar mediums to soften scrupulous mathematical logics whilst vibrating rational norms with sensory visions, in the end to stir up the confined cage of our mind.
The gallery displays a few horn-shaped sculptures, the wide-flared mouths of which are interconnected with slender tubes. This series of works, Hypothetical Figure, originates from the concept of wormhole in modern science – the universe may have cramped tunnels that link different time and space. Kwade connects horn holes and tubes, and places granite in the upward-facing mouths and detritus of equivalent weight under the downward facing mouths, so as to construct a metaphor that a matter processed by the wormhole ends up in a different status despite the same mass – the result of a journey in space-time. Kwade questions not only the earth but also the abstruse relations of time and space. To explore those undefined mysteries, she establishes a distinctive visual system to approach the answers and hews out a novel path for visions.
In fact, Kwade’s queries on the reality all derive from the enigmas of her own life. People have long been sentimental about the elapse of time; however, Kwade has been able to transform her obsession with time through her work. She has made different series with the theme of time: One Year (2018), One Month (July 2018), and One Week. Without close attention to these works on the wall, it is difficult to recognize that the tiny sheet metal pieces arranged in clockwise sequence are actually the hands taken from a clock dial. Just like a second is finished with a tick of the second hand, when we realize the present moment, it has already become the past. In Kwade’s delicate arrangement, however, the ephemeral reality gets subverted: all the clock hands, each of which represents an instant, are synchronised to be juxtaposed in sequence to visualise the concept of time, offering the fleeting time some space to linger. These sequences of hands resemble the crawling motion of creatures as well as a swarm of time, which endows the cruelness of the transience of time with the warmth of lives. When viewers pass by the works, they physically encounter time. Aside from such poetic expression, Kwade also pokes fun at time. Against the Run, a large installation that mimics the old-fashioned timepieces on New York avenues, stands in the lawn outside the museum building. After being collected by the Yuz Foundation, the work was transported from New York’s Central Park to Shanghai’s riverside. The artist sets the second hand in continuous rotation yet has the dial move counter-clockwise every second, and therefore the second hand seem to remain at the scale mark of 12 o’clock. The existing design of clocks confines our cognition upon the movement of time; through the craftiness embedded in this timepiece, the concept of time defined by a clock has collapsed, and we are compelled to re-cogitate over it.
Kwade’s observations on the real world and fantasies of eternity are carefully studied, analyzed and summarized before becoming refined installations. Her art is a visually abnormal punch that challenges fixed concepts and incurs romantic meditation. The Yuz Museum welcomes viewers to this rhapsody in the coming winter, on a rational and emotional sail with Alicja Kwade across time, space, and all matters.