Allora & Calzadilla “Electromagnetic Fields”

Gladstone Gallery (130 E 64th St.)

poster for Allora & Calzadilla “Electromagnetic Fields”

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Gladstone Gallery presents Electromagnetic Fields, an exhibition by Allora & Calzadilla that draws inspiration from “Les Champs Magnétiques” (The Magnetic Fields) by Andre Breton & Philippe Soupault. Published in 1920 in the aftermath of World War I and the Spanish flu, this foundational work in automatic writing eerily echoes the hallucinatory imagery of our troubling present a century later.

With a similar desire to explore hidden realms, Allora & Calzadilla experiment with electromagnetism to create forms that are at once abstract and referential. The artists drop iron filings on top of a canvas and place it above an array of copper cables connected to an electrical breaker in their studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico. When the breaker is turned on, the electrical current forces the particles into an arrangement of shapes and patterns governed by the electromagnetic field. To set them in motion, the taut canvas is continuously tapped which sends the heavy bits airborne and towards the positive and negative poles. The artists have further divided the picture plane into two separate yet interconnected fields, joined by a common boundary that transforms the overall composition into a single system.

Attraction and repulsion, strength and weakness, accumulation and dispersal are some of the tools the artists employ to find formal resolution in the canvases. However, the rhythmic balance achieved does not mute the pulsing forces that condition the very appearance of the artwork - from stock market cycles to fossil fuel combustions. Allora & Calzadilla’s artistic experiments with electromagnetism are in equal part an exploration of formal principals and way of confronting the complex nexus that is the energy grid.



from September 28, 2021 to October 30, 2021

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