I was lucky enough to be to be invited to the opening night of James Turrell’s latest series of installations at the See! Colour! exhibition in Järna, Sweden. Watch the video above for his impressive opening speech.
The show was a collection of 5 James Turrell installations, including a permanent “Sky Space” which is the most northern in the world. In short, the installations were breathtaking. I had seen Turrells work in London and in Wolfsburg, but this collection showed a wider range of his work and the beautiful setting made it a very memorable experience. Photography wasn’t allowed inside many of the installations because of the disruption to the experience of the show so I’ll have to paint the pictures with words.
The most impressive installation on show was definitely the new “Bindu Shards” in the pictures above. Bindu Shards is a 4m dia white fibreglass sphere in which 1 viewer can go inside at a time for 15 minutes. You lie on your back on a sliding bed (not unlike an X-Ray machine) and with headphones on and you are rolled through a small door and inside the pure white sphere. You are now lying with your head facing upwards and in the centre of the sphere. You can see only pure whiteness and hear the dull tone playing on the audio. All your senses are completely deprived and controlled. Before going inside I had to sign a form stating that I was not drunk or on drugs and did not suffer from epilepsy or seizures. As I had chosen the “Hard” setting for the show I was glad I did not experience any of the above. For 15 minutes I lay in the sphere looking up into a magical, powerful, pulsating, colourful, dream like show. There was a point where I almost had to close my eyes because of the strobing intensity was just so rich, but I decided to let it absorb me. This installation was like nothing I had seen before. Although there is simply a ring of RGB LED’s below you lighting up, inwards and outwards, the effect created was truly amazing. Just with simple changes of colour, and intensity my eyes were generating their own scheme of shapes and patterns that weren’t there at all. At one point I felt like I was rising through a tunnel at light speed. At another, lying on the ground being bombarded green polygons. It was incredible and when I came out and back to reality I needed to rest and to be with friends for a minute to regain my composure.
Next to Binda Shards was an exhibition of pictures and models from Turrell’s “Rodin Crater”, his extinct volcano in Arizona. The 2 pictures above show cross section views through the light tunnels and spaces built below the ground.
In complete contrast to the Bindu Shards was “Dark Matters” from Turrell’s series where darkness rules. This installation was pure blackness and is experienced by 2 people at a time. We were asked to feel our way along the walls and walkways until we found a space with 2 chairs on which we sat for the next 15 minutes. The space was absolutely pure black and sound proof. Once again our senses were deprived of all stimulation. This was an experience of deep contemplation and only after some minutes was the surprise revealed. In case some of you are planning the trip there, I won’t ruin it for you.
Next up was the newly finished “Sky Space” above, which sat in between trees and next to a sweeping view of the neighbouring fields. I was lucky to be there on a sunny day to experience the bright glow of the sun beam hitting the interior wall. The Pantheon-esque effect was quite mesmerising and I sat for a long while watching clouds float by. Unfortunately as it was the opening night it was booked out and I didn’t get a chance to come back at twilight. Behind the row of high back, built in seating, the artificial light combines with the natural light and creates a very different feeling. For more information on this piece click here.
“Ganzfeld” is a huge, vivid space in which the audience walks inside and is saturated in pure colour. It is a 2 storey high space with a ramp down from the top to the ground floor which leads you forward to the seemingly endless wall. The end wall has a drop of about 1.5m and widens out by the same amount to create a mysterious void where your perspective is distorted and visual perception of the space is very difficult. I had seen this piece in Wolfsburg, where it was quite a lot bigger but the effect here was still very impressive. For more information on this piece click here.
There were some other Turrell works but for me, these were the most impressive. This series of installations was quite remarkable and adding to that experience was the beautiful surroundings of the site. Some organic architecture, a large lake with meditation hut on the water and local organic farm made the whole experience one to remember and I was sure glad I made the trip. If you can, I suggest you go there and see the works for yourself. Below is a few more images of the surrounding establishment.
Posted by: Flynn – NIS Berlin