Several Circles

When 4 Apr 2014 - 17 May 2014
Where EFA Project Space
323 West 39th Street, between 8th and 9th avenues, 2/F
New York, NY 10018
United States
Enquiry (212) 563-5855

Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 6-8pm

Artists: Joe Brittain, John Cage, Mia Goyette, Vladimir Havrilla, Rachel Higgins, Music Animation Machine (Stephen Malinowski), Mamiko Otsubo, Irgin Sena, Slobodan Stošić, Alina Tenser

Curated by Marco Antonini

This group exhibition takes its title from Vasily Kandinsky’s Several Circles, a 1926 painting that epitomizes Kandinsky’s co-optation of geometric form, a consequence of his exposure to Russian Constructivism and to the unfolding utopias that defined the cultural and social climate of the October Revolution. Geometry, for the author of Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane, was a way to access and communicate universal truths and feelings.

Kandinsky also believed there was a correspondence among forms, colors, and sounds. (“The circle,” he wrote in a letter to a friend, “is simultaneously loud and soft.”) This phenomenon is known as synesthesia, which is often deemed a neurological condition, and occurs when the stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary stimulation in another sense. An example of synesthesia is “hearing” colors. This exhibition takes this theory a step further. Recent scientific evidence indicates that the word synesthesia has been incorrectly used to describe connections among stimuli that are in fact induced by semantic representations. The artworks in “Several Circles” are aligned with the newer diagnosis of ideaesthesia: a phenomenon in which concepts evoke perception-like experiences. In other words, these concepts—such as a letter inducing color in the mind’s eye, as learned from refrigerator-magnet alphabets at an early age, or understanding “mu5ic” as “music,” by exchanging the letter “s” with the number “5”—trigger reactions that we believe we comprehend through our senses.

If such perception-events are more about ideas and concepts—our own, or those we glean through interactions with different communities or society at large—to what extent would notions such as popular visual tropes, specific cultural references, or language itself tend to be associated with physical sensations? And how?

The works chosen for this exhibition connect not only sight, hearing, taste, touch, and scent, but reach out to a cosmos of “other” senses defined by the artists’—and our own—understanding of reality, and ways to make meaning of it. Apart from their ideaesthetic qualities, the works are unified by the recurrent use of the circular form, a trait d’union suggesting the possibility of a networked reading of the whole exhibition. Kandinsky’s talismanic Several Circles will appear in the exhibition in many different forms, serving as connective tissue among the objects and images on display.


“Several Circles” Sensory Tour by Georgia Krantz

Friday, May 16, time tba

Georgia Krantz, the Senior Education Manager for Adult and Access Programs at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, specializes in descriptive and multi-sensory programs for the blind or those with limited vision. Ms. Krantz will offer viewers an opportunity to experience the works on display through these educational techniques. More tour dates to be announced soon.

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Friday, May 16,  7pm

Johnathan Holmok and his ensemble will present a musical interpretation of Kandinsky’s iconic 1926 painting, Several Circles, that will explore the work’s cosmic nature through sound. The score  will utilize the position, color, and size of the circles to create an aural landscape reminiscent of the “music of the spheres.” Throughout, musicians will have some liberty to “traverse the circles” and respond to each other improvisationally within set guidelines. The goal is to give listeners a multisensory experience that will help them further understand synesthesia, and the relationship between art and music.

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

For more information, please click here.