MICOL ASSAËL | STONE BROKEN CIRCUIT
ST AGNES | CHAPEL | 16.12.2016–15.1.2017

In open circuits, current cannot flow because the path is broken, incomplete or
interrupted.


In her third solo exhibition at KÖNIG GALERIE, the Italian artist Micol Assaël
reproduces the mechanics of those circuits both literal and figurative. Stone
Broken Circuit (2016), a new series of works presented in the former chapel of
St. Agnes, stands as another iteration of her fascination with the laws of
nature, physics, and electromagnetism. Comprised of an installation, sculptural
units and a book of drawings, the tripartite show speaks to Assaël’s ongoing
interest in making visible the invisible, urging us to reconsider the mechanisms
of perception.


Laid out on the floor of the chapel, dark stripes made of Bakelite, a plastic
mainly used for its nonconductive properties in early electrical designs, trace
the map of an open electrical circuit. Clusters of small irregularly shaped white
marble cubes complete the installation and interrupt the broken circuit. Some
carefully stacked atop each other, others scattered on the floor seemingly at
random, they variously remind the viewer of the orderly chaos of nature, frozen
urban landscapes, and playful sugar-cube constructions. Their apparent
geometrical order is deconstructed and torn apart so as to turn fallen cubes into
dice revealing random results. Three additional sculptures resembling scales rise
from the space of the circuit. Wooden blocks and old electrical components are
mounted on pipes, while marble cubes challenge the balance of the beam.

Next to a wall, on a window repurposed as a table, stands a book of drawings
offering yet another view of broken electrical circuits and lost potentials. The
third in an edition of five, this book, bound in the Nobiru Gajo technique,
represents wiring diagrams showing incomplete and erroneous circuit schematics
from the age of electricity. Delicate ink tracings unfold amid a literal field of
tension generated by the two heavy book covers made of magnetic blocks. Between
the folds, meticulously drawn on found sheets of paper from the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, Assaël’s methodical investigation into useless and
defective diagrams short-circuits the ideas of linearity, finitude, and
functionality.


A closer look at her most recent work brings Mindfall (2007), an immersive
installation Assaël exhibited at König, to mind. In an industrial container
resembling a factory office, the artist had placed twenty-one discarded motors
running low on energy, alternately overstraining in a harmony of noise. The piece
prompted the viewer to meditate on the ideas of pointless labor and technical
‘failure,’ a theme she picks up again in Stone Broken Circuit, but now with a
quiet and static yet no less powerful assemblage.


By bringing together and playing with conductive and nonconductive materials in
such ways, Assaël refers not only to the laws of physics, but also to larger
phenomena of connectivity, be it atomic, molecular, personal, social, or
semantic. Her practice abstracts the connections we trace and unsettles
traditional belief systems in what she describes as an attempt to ‘locate the
dark zones of our understanding.’


Micol Assaël was born in Rome in 1979 and currently lives and works in Italy and
Greece. She recently presented solo shows at Galleria Zero … (2015) and Hangar
Bicocca (2014), Milan, the Secession, Vienna (2009), Kunsthalle Fridericianum,
Kassel (2009), and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2009). She also contributed to
group exhibitions at the American Academy in Rome (2016), the Fondazione
Pastificio Cerere, Rome (2015), Bozar, Bruxelles (2014), and the Whitechapel
Gallery, London (2013). Her work was shown in numerous international exhibitions
such as the 28th São Paulo Biennial (2008), the 4th Berlin Biennale (2006),
Manifesta 5 (2004), and the 50th and 51st Venice Biennales (2003, 2005).