26 OCTOBER – 24 NOVEMBER 2007
“There is no doubt that physics (…) is essential to most of the sophisticated behaviour of the world we know. So why should the most sophisticated behaviour that we know of in the world, namely that of conscious living human beings, not also depend on the very detailed nature of those laws?” Roger Penrose
After many years of collaboration between Micol Assaël and KÖNIG GALERIE the artist’s first solo exhibition was shown in the gallery rooms. Inside a factory’s former office and electrical distribution center, were 21 discarded motors installed on worktables. The office’s windows were extremely fogged, blocking the spectator’s view. Upon entering the booth, the engines were constantly turning on and off, so that several were activated at once. They worked at a very low energy level and their reduced power caused them to overstrain. Between clangs and groans they sluggishly performed their pointless labour, overheating and filling up the space with smoke and a biting smell of gasoline. In turn, the intermittent frequencies of the motors produced vibrations and their tones came together in a harmony of noises, a materialization of sound which could be felt throughout the body. In addition, for this exhibition’s opening, the musician Mika Vainio amplified these frequencies and arranged them into a composition.
The work of Assaël plays with the human body’s possibilities of sensory perception. “Assaël subjects it to extreme, physically uncomfortable, and often even risky experiences”, writes Roberta Tenconi. According to Adam Szymczyk, Assaël connects to the time in art history in which artists started reacting against body art with minimal and conceptual works in order to question the relationships between artist, work and observer:
“Assaël seeks to abolish the dialectics of the self and the outside world still present in previous body-oriented art (…). In this new situation, the body should belong to no one, just as in an experiment conducted in the objective, neutral conditions of a lab, or in any meditative exercise leading to sensory deprivation and freedom of the mind (…).”
Assaël’s aesthetic arrays are rigorously constructed upon the laws of Physics, Mechanics and Logics, often requiring the cooperation of Engineers and Mathematicians - like for Chizhevsky Lessons (2007) in the Kunsthalle Basel where she turned a 200m² hall into a giant electrical condenser. Based on physical assemblages or mechanical structures, the installations result in spaces which allow for unusual sensory and intersubjective experience. In this way, Assaël creates a situation in which the observer himself becomes a converging point between technics and science and art and poetry.