Alicja Kwade is a Berlin-based contemporary conceptual artist, known for her sculptures that question the notions of space and time. Her exhibition Medium Median is held in Whitechapel Gallery until the 25th of June 2017, so I decided to pay it a visit.
The exhibition occupies one large room and the entrance is free. The lighting is very dark and only some lights focus specifically on the artworks.
“I’m trying to see what could be the structure of reality” Kwade once said.
When entering the exhibition, the feelings generated are dreaminess and a blur of space and time. This is what she tried to achieve after all. At the three sides of the square room are placed three bronze sculptures, alien reminiscent figures, named Urform I, II and III. At the fourth side, there is a video projected on a cloth screen named Aphophis, Toutatis, 1999JM8.
At the centre of the room there is a kinetic sculpture called Medium Median (Homo-Mensura), the highlight of the exhibition which also lent it its name. It consists of iPhones hung through cables on stainless steel bars and an electronic monitor that produces sound; a woman’s voice speaking repetitively in a hypnotizing tone, reading passages from Genesis.
When approaching the kinetic sculpture, one can notice that all the iPhone screens show a picture of the space with thousands of stars. They form a sky map as they receive information from GPS satellites about the current location of the stars. As the stars’ location is changeable, we get the sense that space is endless, and that not even the universe is something fixed and definite. We don’t know its limits, and time there does not exist-it is a creation of the human mind.
Although a relatively small exhibition, as it occupies only one room, it is very fulfilling and Kwade manages to successfully pass her message and make the visitor himself wonder about the ideas of time and space.
77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX
Open from Tuesday to Sunday