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Powerful Effects: Passages of Light by James Turrell

Powerful Effects: Passages of Light by James Turrell

Passages of Light by James Turrell Ph. Florian Holzerr

Day 18 of FestiveNESS is not purely about design but relates to questions that are pertinent to the field. James Turrell’s work explores the physicality of light, creating experiences of its form and fusing art with a scientific understanding. The artist’s works create a powerful immersive experience that leaves the viewers with an almost-spiritual perspective. What can we learn from these artworks in terms of our emotions and the designs that we interact with daily?  The exhibition Passages of Light at the Museo Jumex in Mexico features new works by the artist and is on view until March 29, 2020.

Gathas from the Curved Elliptical Glass series, 2019 Museo Jumex, 2019, © James Turrell, Ph. Florian Holzherr

Passages of Light by James Turrell at Museo Jumex

The exhibition features new works from Turrell’s most important series, spanning two floors of Museo Jumex’s galleries. Each installation is a carefully controlled environment in which light is formed and experienced.

“The architectures which create spaces for his installations both within and outside the gallery perform as naked-eye observatories as did ancient temples and other sacred buildings that are built in line with the heavenly constellations. Furthermore, references to popular, cinematic imagery of UFOs and alien abductions brings the artist’s interest in our connection to the stars into the contemporary. And so, Turrell draws on the lessons and structures of many different cultural threads to weave these extraordinary experiences.”

– Kit Hammonds, Chief Curator, Museo Jumex

Using light as his medium, saturated fields of color take on a physical presence. Through a scientific understanding of light’s affects and a singular artistic vision, Turrell creates wordless meditations on time and space that are as relevant today as they have been throughout human history. Extending beyond the physical spaces of a gallery or museum, the artist has created monumental structures that make the skies and heavenly bodies seem tangible to the viewer. Each body of work in the exhibition has been juxtaposed by a quotation from diverse sources that offer a poetic understanding of Turrell’s influences.

“My work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing. I’m also interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity—that physical feeling and power that space can give.”

– James Turrell

The first-floor gallery presents Amesha Spentas one of James Turrell’s Ganzfeld installations that subsume the visitor in a field of color. As light modulates through a sequence of changing colors and effects, space transforms and dissolves around the viewer, the installation is designed to eliminate the viewer’s depth perception and provoke different ways of seeing.

On the second floor, the exhibition continues with a selection of installations, prints, photographs, models, and holograms that survey Turrell’s broad-ranging practice.

The exhibition is introduced by the First Light prints that capture the various forms made from light from Turrell’s Projection Pieces. A projection piece installation follows, marking one of the artists’s earliest experiments with using pure light as a medium to transform space. The Double Shallow Space (Atman) and Wedgework (Spenta Mainyu) installations date from the same period.

The exhibition continues with a selection of photographs and models that document Turrell’s Roden Crater project. Aerial views of the crater portray Turrell’s view of the crater from his perspective as an experienced pilot, an important influence on his understanding of light. The models allow visitors to envisage the point of view of looking out from Roden Crater’s chambers towards the sky. Further works include Turrell’s use of recent technology, including holograms, a natural medium for the artist to explore as light seems to take on a presence in space. The Curved Elliptical Glass (Gathas) installation is among Turrell’s most recent body of works, and its slow transformation of color has been likened by the artist to musical scores.

DATES: November 22, 2019 – March 29, 2020  / LOCATION: Museo Jumex, Mexico /  ORGANIZED BY: Kit Hammonds, Chief Curator, and Adriana Kuri Alamillo, Curatorial Assistant, Museo Jumex / TEXT: Press material from Museo Jumex edited by NESS

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