MICOL ASSAËL | STONE BROKEN CIRCUIT

16 DECEMBER 2016 – 15 JANUARY 2017
ST. AGNES | CHAPEL

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

The Italian artist Micol Assaël reproduces the mechanics of those circuits both literal and figurative. Stone Broken Circuit (2016) 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 non-conductive 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 non-conductive 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.’

© Images Roman März