Critics’ Picks

Haroon Mirza, Digital Switchover (detail), 2012, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.

St. Gallen

Haroon Mirza

Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen
Davidstrasse 40
April 21–July 1, 2012

Nearly one year ago Haroon Mirza received the Silver Lion Award, naming him the most promising young artist in the 2011 Venice Biennale. With his site-specific, three-room installation Digital Switchover, 2012, he now submerges the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen’s galleries in a dialogical, in-and-out cross-fade: In one gallery, visitors encounter fine red and green bands of LED lights, which mark out the sides of two-dimensional boxes strung up between the columns, floor, and ceiling, in the middle of the space. A second gallery is cloaked in a pulsating blue glow from a similar installation of lights. The third space is covered in blue, green, and red sound insulating foam that complements the bright splashes of a waterfall screening on a flat-screen monitor in the room. Already in the entryway to the exhibition one can hear the ebb and flow of a droning, sonorous, electroacoustic siren in the latter space. Only gradually does it become clear how the pulses of light modulate the sound.

Through minimal interventions to this formerly industrial space, there emerges a tense but harmonically resounding landscape of light and sound. I am fascinated by the way in which Mizra can even shift the solid parameters of the space into flux, as he has done in his recent exhibition trilogy (at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Schering Stiftung in Berlin, and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen). He toggles between analog and digital signals, but also between allusions to various moments in art. Is this work a tribute to Dan Flavin or Fred Sandback, or perhaps to David Hammons? Cobbling together materials and technologies from different eras, Mirza creates an unmistakable unity, which may even include messages about the future.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.