Nina Canell: We Sank Through to Our Waists (32760 Revolutions)

Exhibition: 21 Nov - 20 Dec 2009

Nina Canell’s work stems from a basic interest in the convertibility of materials and conditions. Born 1979 in Växjö and based in Berlin, the Swedish artist combines everyday items and found objects - objects shaped by everyday processes, features and nature and transformed into carriers of new information – into walk-in, spatial installations with visually, audibly and intellectually experienceable, process-orientated arrangements.

In We Sank Through to Our Waists (32760 Revolutions), the artist’s recent solo show at Projects in Art & Theory, Nina Canell draws on the notion of circulation and objects’ constant recurrence or transformation. "Revolutions" not only refers to the measurable rotation and specified path a turntable’s needle takes on a smooth aluminium surface 182 hours long (literally sinking through to its waist) it also describes the interaction of material, space and time as it is transmitted by electric frequencies or properties, sounds, and movements inscribed in the objects themselves.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is an evenly shaped, oval Suiseki stone entitled Rock of Wisdom, placed on a small, handmade wooden plate (dai). Cherished in China, Japan and Korea for over two thousand years, Suiseki stones and stony objects are naturally shaped by atmospheric conditions and characterised by their unique surface, material quality and artistic value. Their appreciation owes both to the stones’ native beauty and unique appearance recalling miniature rock formations and islands, and their significance in Buddhism and Taoism. The term “Suiseki” combines two antagonistic principles of the alterable and the permanent: "Sui" means "water" and represents the fluid, movable and formless condition, while "Seki" refers to the constant, unchangeable and solid stone. Characteristically they represent the singular figure of erosion and temporality. Each notch and each draft, according to Nina Canell, articulates the sedulous process of creation made by nature as well as the inconsistency, transitory and ephemeral nature of objects. Pointing to the Suiseki tradition and its interest in the transformation of convertible conditions, the recent floor piece Perpetuum Mobile (40KG) consists of an open sack of cement positioned beside an enamel bowl filled with water. The bowl is fitted with an ultrasound converter that transforms the water from its liquid to gaseous state. The water evaporates over the course of the exhibition, settling as a vapour on the powdered cement and hardening it. "Perpetuum Mobile" refers to the thermodynamic definition of a closed circuit, which – once initiated – sustains motion indefinitely, despite losing energy.

Canell’s piece also refers to the installation Perpetuum Mobile (2440 KG) currently on view at the Hamburg Kunstverein, where the artist piled up sacks of cements with a total weight of 2440 kg and amplified the sound of the rising steam with microphone and speakers. With Skywalker, a levitating mobile and the third piece presented at Projects, she puts new circles of thought into motion. Skywalker (2009) consists of two wooden maracas, one covered with dark blue and subtle spotted fabric, the other marked by punctual notches and signs of usage. Like the turntable piece We Sank Through to Our Waists (32760 Revolutions), it is a discreet, autonomous object recalling only its function as a rhythm instrument and the diffusion of sound and energy through space and time.

Kulturamt Köln

Stiftung Kunstfonds