Otavio Schipper at Shin Gallery

Schipper with Empty Voices

by Otavio Schipper
Curated by Lara Pan
Shin Gallery 
Until Nov 25th 

A golem is a clay anthropomorphic being from Jewish tradition brought to life from inanimate matter spontaneously. It is also the name of Otavio Schipper’s first solo exhibition in NYC. Following KLAS, the artistic residency at Max Planck Institute where the artist was immersed in microfluidics labs, Schipper presents an intricately diverse body of work at Shin Gallery.

Schipper's latest artworks for this exhibition are the assemblages Optical Memory (2018) and Portrait of a Bird  (2018). While the first uses recurring elements in his work, like eyeglasses and light poles creating an atmosphere of the late 1800s, the second features a composition that appropriates bifocals such as the one lost by Rat Man, Freud’s (1856-1939) patient in his famous case study on obsessive-compulsive behaviour. 

Schipper has been building his conception of the golem for years. His research uncovered  findings like the following quote by Gustav Meyer (1850-1900), an Austrian writer most famous for the novel The Golem. The quote adds tuning forks to the lexicon of Otavio Schipper’s Golem.

"Perhaps it is right here among us, every hour of the day, only we cannot perceive it. You can't  hear the note from a vibrating tuning fork until it touches wood and sets it resonating. Perhaps it is simply a spiritual growth without any inherent consciousness, a structure that develops like a crystal out of formless chaos according to a constant law.”  

Hanging from the ceiling Empty voices (2012), is a series of sculptures recast from actual tuning forks. While preserving the simplicity and elegance of its original forms, Schipper removes its power to emit sound by changing its scale and the elasticity of its metals. 

In the basement of the gallery is the video Golem (2018), that names the exhibition. A collage of images that range from the microscopic realm of cellular life, to lab paraphernalia of pipettes, to images from Mars. The micro world becomes intertwined with spacial scale, just like in Schipper's assemblages. Developed by Dr. Sergio Krakowski, a frequent collaborator in Schipper's projects, the soundtrack conveys a feeling of fragmented space with disconnected parallel events that interconnect from time to time. 

Golem also presents Lumens (2015), an open series of watercolors on paper. The forms are inspired in topological components such as color theorems and Klein bottles, a great source for exploring central questions of scale, boundaries, time and the origin of life.In order to do have them painted, Schipper provides the main elements such as water bubbles and pigment density and start an autonomous process that spontaneously bring his artworks to life. Just like a golem.

Luciana Solano

November, 2018 

Luciana Solano