Critics’ Picks

Rolf Julius, Room of Stillness II, 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.


Rolf Julius

e/static → blank
via Reggio 27
April 14–July 16

“I long thought about how one can create rooms where one can withdraw and find rest, where one can see, hear, and concentrate, where one is shut off from the external world and yet takes part in it,” wrote Rolf Julius in his 1987 essay “Room of Stillness.” Room of Stillness II, the second in a series of planned installations by the artist, has been materialized in one of the two galleries of the e/static cultural association in Turin. Unfortunately, it is also the last such space by the artist, who died this past January at the age of seventy-one. Room of Stillness II is a unified composition made up of distinct works where, in the German artist’s usual fashion, looking and listening proceed in unison: Photographs, small bowls of pigment, and stones alternate with small speakers that broadcast a murmur of sounds, both natural and artificial.

In addition to this work, the exhibition presents pieces from the beginning of Julius’s career, which remain among his most beautiful creations. Gray Music #1, 1980, is a sequence of eighteen small black-and-white photographs––abstract details of walls––accompanied by a sound composition of rustlings and breaths: “tape noises that remain after all the ‘real music’ has been edited out,” as Julius once said.

Seen together, the early and very last works confirm the value of this artist who found a personal way to interpret the age-old search for correspondences between sound and vision. His self-described “small musics” seem to come from the material itself, as if the objects in his installations had found a voice, a quiet and mysterious sonority whereby they make themselves heard.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.