I was no longer in the water but rather I was high above the water and looking down upon it. The sky, that had been so grey and lowering, was iridescent with indescribable beauty. Waves of ecstatic and delicate color vibrated around me and lulled me to a sense of peace beyond comprehensions.
—Robert Kyle Beggs (Case No. 562), Case-Book of Astral Projection, 545–746, by Dr. Robert Crookall, 1972
I think the descriptions of near-death experience, descriptions of light phenomena in the dream, and in waking . . . I don’t pretend to have a religious art, but I have to say, it is artists who worked that territory from the very beginning.
—James Turrell, 1999
CLEAR brings together works by twenty-three contemporary artists exploring subjects reflective, transitory, crystalline, or celestial by traversing concepts of clarity sourced from art history, science, and esotericism.
The late 1960s saw the emergence of the California Light and Space movement, tangential to Minimalism, with protagonists such as James Turrell, Larry Bell, and De Wain Valentine. They created works predicated on the extrasensory potential of light by using the space within and around it as an immersive frame, heightening the viewer’s awareness of the mind-body experience. CLEAR imagines a continuation of this narrative, suggesting astral projection—leaving one’s physical body to inhabit an “astral” one—as an endgame. The exhibition explores apertures both material and conceptual, as well as the rich sensibilities that visualize the science and fantasy of aesthetic experience and popular imagination.
Photographic works take the sky as a subject or vantage point, capturing heavenly bodies from light years away. Light and cosmic mystery converge in Lisa Oppenheim’s Heliograms (2013), with their abstract sun-spotting, and the starry firmament of Thomas Ruff’s Sterne (1989–92). Andreas Gursky’s Ocean IV (2010) is a god’s-eye view of the sublime nether region between the Horn of Africa and Antarctica, improbably compressed within a single frame.
Since Narcissus’s first reflection in the gazing pool, the mirror has offered glimpses of a parallel reality. Douglas Gordon’s Everything is Nothing Without its Reflection: A Photographic Pantomime (2014) presents a diary of poignant photographic images interspersed with identically framed mirrors; thus, in the process of looking, the viewer is drawn in as an active player in the visual drama. Upon passing through the looking-glass, Alice contemplated the qualities of “mirror milk” in the chiral sameness before her; the same conundrum underscores Michael Craig-Martin’s iconic conceptual work An Oak Tree (1972). Notions of duality also inform Gianni Motti’s six-hour film titled HIGGS—Looking for the Anti-Motti (2005), which shows the artist walking through the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Here, science and fiction meet face-to-face in the thirty-kilometer tunnel that loops beneath Geneva, where particles are accelerated into divine ether.
In 1971, artist and psychic Ingo Swann coined the term “remote viewing” to describe his ability to consciously leave his body and visit places both tangible and unknown. Swann’s collaboration with the Stanford Research Institute, and eventually the CIA—in what was later declassified as the “Stargate Project”—bridged science and fiction and became his prime artistic motivation, resulting in paintings such as Cosmic Egg (1994). Since the earliest recordings of astral projection, one third of all accounts report a silver umbilical cord tethering the subject to the physical body while floating in the astral plane—literalized in Lazaros’s sculpture A Silver Cord (2014). Were the mind’s full capacity to be accessible, total clarity would allow the visualization of multiverses, such as Jorinde Voigt’s large-scale algorithmic drawings, which suggest an omniscient pattern of interplanar activity, or Mark Lombardi’s detailed constellations of global conspiracy. Investigating a range of possibilities, from x-ray vision to astral projection and the cosmos, CLEAR treats translucence as an avenue to transcendence.
Artists in the exhibition: Richard Artschwager, Larry Bell, Julien Bismuth, Dan Colen, Michael Craig-Martin, Olafur Eliasson, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Andreas Gursky, Jacob Kassay, Idris Khan, Germaine Kruip, Lazaros, Mark Lombardi, Gianni Motti, Lisa Oppenheim, Kirsten Pieroth, Thomas Ruff, Ingo Swann, James Turrell, Daniel Turner, De Wain Valentine, Jorinde Voigt.
Douglas Gordon: if when why what
Douglas Gordon took over the Piccadilly Lights advertising screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus, as well as a global network of screens in cities including Berlin, Melbourne, Milan, New York, and Seoul, nightly for three minutes at 20:22 (8:22pm) throughout December 2022, with his new film, if when why what (2018–22). The project was presented by the Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Art (CIRCA) in conjunction with the exhibition Douglas Gordon: Neon Ark at Gagosian, Davies Street, London.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2023
The Spring 2023 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Roe Ethridge’s Two Kittens with Yarn Ball (2017–22) on its cover.
Dan Colen: Other Worlds Are Possible
In this interview, curator and artist K.O. Nnamdie speaks with artist Dan Colen about his recent show in New York: Lover, Lover, Lover. Colen delves into the concept of “home” as it relates to his work, specifically the Mother and Woodworker series. Thinking through the political and historical implications of “homeland” in the context of the artist’s relationship with Israel and America, the two consider the intersections between these paintings—the final group of his Disney-inspired canvases—and Colen’s work with Sky High Farm, New York.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Art Panel
In this video, Deana Haggag, program officer, Arts and Culture at Mellon Foundation; Dan Colen, artist and founder of Sky High Farm; Linda Goode Bryant, artist and founder of Project EATS; and Diya Vij, curator at Creative Time sit down together to explore the roles of artist and audience, place and accessibility, legacy, capital influence, and individual vs. collective agency as they relate to artmaking today.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Community Panel
In this video, Thelma Golden, chief curator and director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Tremaine Emory, founder of Denim Tears and creative director of Supreme; Father Mike Lopez, founder of the Hungry Monk Rescue Truck; and artist Anicka Yi sit down to explore how the concept of community has shaped their work, and the power in seeing the places we live, our histories, and even our bodies as porous, interdependent, and alive.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Land Panel
In this video, Veronica Davidov, visual and environmental anthropologist; Karen Washington, activist, farmer and co-founder of Black Urban Growers (BUGS) and co-owner of Rise & Root Farm; Candice Hopkins, curator, writer and executive director of Forge Project; and Haley Mellin, artist, conservationist and founder of Art to Acres sit down to explore the tensions and overlaps between different efforts to define, use, and protect land.