Critics’ Picks

View of “Cerith Wyn Evans: Bubble Peddler,” 2007. Foreground: Calibration and Sensitometry by R. Ziener [1987], 2006. Background: Coloured Chinese Lanterns . . ., 2007.


Cerith Wyn Evans

Kunsthaus Graz
Lendkai 1
February 3–May 13

In this exhibition, Cerith Wyn Evans has created a parallel universe, one that is both hermetically sealed and full of Minimalist opulence. Through the sophisticated intertwining of nine light and text installations, Evans has produced a complex interchange between formulas of meaning and formulas of encoding. Light is both the subject and the medium of transmission for Evans. He deploys it in metaphoric and poetic ways, as well as referring to its ability to create mental effects that are not instigated by retinal perception. Likewise, he understands that light is interwoven with darkness, and unconscious, uncoded elements make slipperiness of meaning a dominant characteristic of the work.

A text on the theory of light sensitivity is transmitted in Morse code while, simultaneously, a sequence of light pulses is radiated from a luxuriant glass chandelier (Calibration and Sensitometry by R. Ziener [1987], 2006). This piece entails a transformation of the analytic into the celebratory and the enchanted. It is also a semantic circle: The source of light “speaks” about its own medium. Evans’s palm-fringed Dreamachines, 2003, are three cylindrical, rotating light objects moving at different speeds that are meant to be experienced by the viewer with eyes closed: Ideally, the light/dark rhythm that penetrates the eyelids induces hypnosis. Another key work is Coloured Chinese Lanterns . . ., 2007. The neon text sculpture is nearly ten meters wide, and its cold light represents the description of an imaginary journey that Evans narrates using the presentation of diverse sources of light and types of darkness, fostering ambiguity through repetition. Evans wants to go beyond that which we describe as “understanding,” to reach the untranslatable elements hidden in all experience. “I hate the idea of being accessible,” he says.