I visited Bitforms gallery last week to see Swiss artist Zimoun’s Volume. Here is 20 minutes worth of steam of conscious thoughts about the piece:
Chelsea. Highline. Boxes. While I’m not a fan of the neighborhood, I appreciate how Chelsea frames most gallery exhibitions in NYC. The walk (or cab ride) across the avenues is wasabi for the eye and the mind, cleansing the palate before sampling an artists work. The wide streets, stacked cars in mechanical parking garages, the high line, the buildings with facades you’d never remember.
Bitforms is lodged in a building like a shoebox in a once organized closet. Find an address, through a door, up some stairs and here it is. It’s dull and arbitrary, concrete.
Inside Bitforms, you are immediately confronted by Zimoun’s Volume. A stack of cardboard boxes forms a wall just a few feet into the gallery. It’s arresting after the wide streets, wide stairs and wide hallway leading you here. After all the concrete, the boxes appear soft, brown, almost organic. They are stacked uneven, a brick way built by a troop of stroke patients in occupational therapy. The light is gentle, the room smells like cardboard.
Around the corner, wait the sign says start the other way.
Now around the other corner, it becomes apparent that this wall of boxes forms a large cube, a room sized cube of boxes. With a entrance. Here’s a pause in the wall.
Enter this space and experience the first and only jarring experience. In hindsight, if I built this I would make it more gentle, more gradual.
Your entrance triggers the piece. Motors whirl and tappity-tap tap-tap. A storm of knuckles against the cardboard envelopes you. It’s startling at first, but the steady rhythm soon consumes you.
Each box surrounding you in this card board den is uniform. The same size face, situated with the same motor mounted in the same place. The motor spins, it’s axel pointed downward. A small wire attached point downward. Each wire unique curved and formerly kinked, provides the syncopation to the visuals and the sounds like a tide draining your mind. Each wire dangles and spins a small cork ball. It knocks against the cardboard, drags against its surface, spins, orbits, and knocks again.
Standing near, a single pat pat emerges above the din. But collectively the hundreds of tappity taps, nearly equal, nearly in sync, form a wash of white noise that fills the space. It’s pretty enough. It quiets your mind.