Magazine article Artforum International

Nina Canell: Moderna Museet

Magazine article Artforum International

Nina Canell: Moderna Museet

Article excerpt


Nina Canell


The very first thing one encountered upon entering "Mid-Sentence," Nina Canell's recent solo exhibition, was a nail. It was embedded in the gallery wall, but instead of having been hammered in, the nail's sharp point faced out, toward the viewer. A few more nails loosely hung from its tip, creating a fragile chain. They were held together by a magnetic force--invisible, but powerful--that permeated their little "bodies" with a flow of energy.

The works of the Swedish-born, Berlin-based artist allow the viewer to perceive normally imperceptible dimensions of reality--not only flows of energy but gravity, sound waves, or air itself. Her delicate compositions of familiar and often mundane objects and materials capture minute examples of these phenomena and render them perceptible to the viewer's eyes, ears, or body. Through this material poetry, Canell unveils an ontology of becoming and suggests that the material world is formed by the constant tension between flux and coagulation. Her sculptures can be seen as an extension of this tension between flow and hardening--they represent sculpture as process, sculpture as emergence or as the result of emergence. Perpetuum Mobile (25 kg), 2009, featuring a water bucket, water, an ultrasound generator, and concrete, subtly reveals the imperceptible interactions between the materials: Owing to humidity, the loose particles of cement that fill a cut-open paper bag placed next to the bucket slowly coagulate into a monolithic sculpture.

As the exhibition title suggests, Canell's sculptures are often considered in literary or linguistic terms. The show's curator, Fredrik Liew, speaks of her sculptures as words that become elements in a vocabulary, while in a catalogue essay for another recent solo show, "Free-Space Path Loss" at Lunds Konsthall, Chris Sharp refers to Canell's works as metaphors. …

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