Exploring the point where fantasy and reality meet, over the past three years Wyn Evans has been visiting the physics laboratory in CERN in Geneva where he has been introduced to scientific ideas relating to probability theory, matter, dark matter, antimatter and connectivity. “All these things have very powerful resonances across all sorts of relationships – object relationships, the conversation that happens as soon as you introduce one object to another … you create a dialogue which forms something like points in a hologram, you form a third through the combination of the first two. Burrows would call it a third mind,” he explains.
From physics to architectural polytopes, this year Wyn Evans will complete a commission from Bernard Arnault for the new Fondation Louis Vuitton building in Paris, designed by Frank Gehry. His contribution will be a new sound piece. Considering the influence of music theorist and architect-engineer Iannis Xenakis on Wyn Evans’s work, this site-specific commission is greatly anticipated.
Returning to the possibilities presented by the Higgs boson, I ask what his fantasy work might be and he confides playfully: “I’m nympholeptic. It comes from nymph. Essentially a nympholept is someone who has an incurable desire for the impossible.”
However, on the Sunday morning when I speak with him, his immediate task is to return to three objects that await his attention: “I have a sitar, a gong and a big telescope sitting in the room just waiting to have a conversation.”
Cerith Wyn Evans’s work is exhibited at two Auckland galleries, Michael Lett and Hopkinson Mossman, from 11 April to 10 May 2014.
Hans Ulrich Obrist
CO-DIRECTOR OF EXHIBITIONS AND PROGRAMS & DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS, SERPENTINE GALLERIES
An invaluable first-hand account of the work of Cerith Wyn Evans can be found in the discussions conducted with the artist by curator and master of the interview Hans Ulrich Obrist. Most notable is Cerith Wyn Evans/Hans Ulrich Obrist: The Conversation Series, published in 2010, which documents their meetings from the Hotel Metropole Bar in Brussels in 2002 through to a train ride taken together to Milton Keynes in 2009. “I met him in 1995 when we did research for the show Live Live which I curated for the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris,” Obrist remembers. “Cerith is a 21st century visionary, a great visual artist, a great filmmaker, a great poet, a great writer and great thinker. He always goes beyond the fear of pooling knowledge.”
What did he learn from the artist during their time working together and their many hours of discussion? “Cerith taught me immense courage, as Jean Rouch always said we need immense courage.” And what does he look forward to in his next encounter with the artist’s work? “The wonderful thing about Cerith is that we can never predict the next step, it’s as Diaghilev and Cocteau said ‘Etonnez moi!’ (Astonish me!)”. It’s permanent surprise.”
CO-DIRECTOR, HOPKINSON MOSSMAN
Prior to returning to New Zealand, Danae Mossman worked at White Cube in London where she was artist liaison for Cerith Wyn Evans, working closely with him for a number of years. “It was fascinating to see the way he opens up space in his installations,” she remembers, “transforming spaces already laden in history into portals for people to cross through into another imaginative realm. I found it hugely inspiring unravelling the layers of meaning and intent in what at first appear to be very minimal works.”
She continues to be fascinated by his work, noting: “It is quietly radical. The practice is so rich and refined and visceral. In spite of the cool conceptual form, the work is deeply passionate.” The exhibition will no doubt generate significant interest from collectors and institutions, as Mossman explains: “His work is held in some of the most important international collections both public (such as the Tate national collection) and private worldwide … [and it] has a strong international market appeal. Hopkinson Mossman and Michael Lett galleries are both committed to generating opportunities for collectors to develop significant international collections and the debut of Cerith Wyn Evans fits perfectly with this.” Works will be priced between AUD$12,000 and AUD$200,000.
DIRECTOR, MICHAEL LETT
Andrew Thomas was also with White Cube in London, where he first encountered Cerith Wyn Evans’s work. “Aesthetically everything he makes is incredibly beautiful, the content of the work is highly emotive and the experience of it very sensory – these things captivate me,” he says.
The collaboration between Michael Lett and Hopkinson Mossman was one of fortuitous timing. “It transpired in conversation that Sarah [Hopkinson, co-director of Hopkinson Mossman] and Danae [Mossman], and Michael [Lett] and I were planning to include Cerith in our program at some point in the coming year … We decided to join forces,” Thomas explains. “It’s exciting to be working in this way with
another gallery – something which doesn’t happen often in Australasia – and it means that we can jointly present a much more comprehensive exhibition of Cerith’s work … The selection of works has been made in order to offer a strong, well-rounded introduction to Cerith’s practice. He made a beautiful show at White Cube’s Hong Kong space last year which I believe was very successful and I’m confident that although mostly new to the audience, the work will resonate with collectors here in Australasia. For those who have followed his work I think this exhibition will be of real interest as we have some terrific new works created especially for the show.”
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 68 ARP – JUN 2014.