Like a magician, Berlin artist Alicja Kwade manipulates time, light and perception, conjuring thoughts of the beyondÑor the possibilities of one. Though her themes are well-worn, the works, sustained by her playful and thoughtful sensibility, entrancingly reverberate off one another.
Kwade draws us into a space where things aren’t quite what they seem: where clocks running faster or slower than normal elongate or shrink the passage of time, while sculptures made of inflexible materials bend, as if some supernatural force had intervened to make the impossible happen.
Illusions and sleights of hand are prevalent. A straight steel rod leans against a mirror, its reflection appearing to waver, but it’s just a mirage, the result of a concavity at the point of contact. Nearby, two lit globes on the floor seem to be reflected numerous times within a freestanding screen of glass, another trick of the eye aided by two other unlit fixtures placed on the opposite side.
The Minimalist austerity of these works is offset by the sonorous ticking of two vintage Art Deco clocks on the wall, and by an installation in an adjacent room, Future in the Past, in which eight pocket watches showing different times dangle from the ceiling, each one connected by a wire to an individual speaker on the floor. A beautiful reminder that “time is of the essence,” as well as an invitation to take the time to reflect on time, this piece—along with the others in the show—is focused and ruminative in a way that much art simply isn’t these days.—Nana Asfour