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Zilvinas Kempinas: Ribbons of Light and Sound

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 23, 2014

Zilvinas Kempinas, an artist known for instilling magical qualities into banal discards, notably magnetic tape, has taken a new approach to materials for his first major outdoor installation in the United States.

Opening on May 11 at Socrates Sculpture Park, in Long Island City, Scarecrow, comprised of 200 mirrored stainless steel poles connecting ribbons of silver mylar, will create a 250-foot-long field of sound and light. The fluttering ribbons will be activated by the elements and engulf viewers in a song from the sky and reflections from the surrounding landscape—the otherwise invisible forces of nature. Continually in motion, constantly adapting to fluctuating weather conditions, Scarecrow will embody the fluidity of nature, using hard-edged, man-made materials.

 

This paradox is a logical extension of earlier works by Kempinas, in which unspooled tapes from VHS cassettes were reassigned as elements describing space, activated by winds created by electric fans. Seen at MoMA in 2010, at the Armory Show a year later, and in variant forms at Museum Tinguely, Switzerland, in 2013, those works logically shaped a new direction that began with the first iteration ofScarecrow, at the Echigo Tsumari Art Field In Japan, in 2012. The name of the piece originated with that installation, in which Kempinas utilized reflective bird repelling tape, a product commonly available at home and garden centers.

When asked about his approach to the banal materials of his art, Kempinas said, “Simplicity has a disarming effect on the viewer. I prefer efficiency of means. It’s like a joy of alchemy: you combine a couple of ordinary things in the right proportion and you get results, which is much more than just a sum of the parts; therefore it is important that the ‘ingredients’ remain visible. Magicians have secrets. Once the secrets are revealed, the magic goes away. Artists don’t have secrets, and art is able to surprise you even more, once you know how it’s made.”

Socrates Sculpture Park celebrates the opening of its 2014 season on Sunday, May 11, from 2-6 pm. 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY. Information.

 


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