Nina Canell. Imperceptible transmissions

Swedish artist realizes her most extended monographic exhibition ever installed into a Swiss museum.

Nina Canell , Robin Watkins, Reflexologies, dimensioni variabili, courtesy Galerie Barbara Wien, Daniel Marzona e Mendes Wood

In St. Gallen Kunstmuseum, cut-open power and fiber optic cables, unwound wire spools and exposed electrical lines demonstrate Nina Canell’s visceral analysis in technical advances, physical properties, and their imperceptible processes. Reflexologies draws its title from a brand new time-control installation, a sophisticated, aerial mechanism realized together with Robin Watkins. Extensively, this monographic survey encompasses and freely associates materials that are not typical of sculpture, creating compositions of varying formats and scales. In a constant search for a possible and consensual balance among Nina Canell’s selects elements, the artist often develops specific methods to combine, juxtapose and merge materials without ever forcing them to a non-definitive interaction.

Large-scale museum’s rooms and huge video projections (Energy budget, 2018) filter different energies from matter, unfolded in many forms. The continuous flux of invisible forces has always been an integral inwardness of Canell’s work, unveiling materials as an inseparable part of environmental reactions. Favouring material agency and flexibility, her process-based installations address sculpture as an open-ended condition. For Reflexologies, Canell has re-created interventions encompassing short segments of subterranean, subsea communication and high voltage cables. Here she is less concerned with the origins or potential symbolic value of each of the items than with their physical presence. In this exhibition, an element, whose presence is usually only perceptible when it becomes palpable in absence, or yet, when its existence is magnified by subtraction. A scale without gravity, a screw without thread, a genome without organism, a cube without space, a space without dimensions or life without time.

Nina Canell , Robin Watkins, Energy budget, 2018, courtesy Galerie Barbara Wien, Daniel Marzona e Mendes Wood
Energy budget, 2018, video projection by Nina Canell and Robin Watkins, courtesy Galerie Barbara Wien, Daniel Marzona e Mendes Wood

Works as Brief Syllable (Skewed) or Muscle Memory (2018) experiment with the texture, weight and balance of technology materials, through them Canell creates an extremely delicate visual landscape. The polyethylene armour and symmetric innards of these long-distance cables make it clear that a current or signal is not sent without resistance but is always as much a part of the distance it has travelled, the things it has come in contact with or bounced off or in.

Nina Canell’s practice, in Shedding Sheaths series (2018), set right in front of Polyethilene Feels (2018), concerns the physical and chemical characteristics of materials and found objects as well as their metaphorical and indexical nature. By placing material forms and immaterial forces into proximity, for example electrifying, heating or moistening wood, copper, plastic or glass, she creates works that embody an interchanging state, a process. Canell’s sculptural practice concentrates on this transformative affect: materials and objects are either being animated by a process in her installations or have been the site of a system in that an encounter or traversal has taken place. Reflexologies focuses on the transience of matter and impermanence. Her works remind us of the fragility of the agreements that hold together everything we consider permanent, definitive and invisible.

Exhibition Title:
Nina Canell. Reflexologies
Opening dates:
From 24 August to 25 November
Curated by:
Nadia Veronese
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Museumstrasse 32, CH-9000 St.Gallen

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