Kimsooja: Weaving the Light @ Cisternerne in Copenhagen, Denmark
One thing that I love is art in mysterious places, pushing me out of a traditional white box and typical gallery walls. So I knew I was in for it when I arrived at the Cisternerne in Copenhagen. Walking through the park to the entrance is magical enough. Everything is bright green and full of life. Right in the middle of a grassy field are two sharp glass pyramids that look as if they are emerging from the ground below. This is where you enter and prepare for your journey.
The Cisternerne is located in an old water reservoir, built in 1859 to house the city’s clean drinking water as a result of a cholera outbreak years earlier. The cistern is 4,400 square meters, the humidity is close to 100%, echoes suspend for 17 seconds, and the daylight never touches its walls. It’s a cavernous space with 3 chambers that transmits you far away from the bustling city above. While the cistern stopped functioning as a reservoir in 1933, today enthusiasts, artists, and gallerists constantly reimagine the space, which now is in the charge of the Frederiksberg Museum.
Every year the museum invites an artist to create a site-specific work and currently featured is South Korean artist Kimsooja. Weaving the Light features artificial lighting that refract a kaleidoscope of light beams across transparent panels and short pools of water still present in the Cistern. Once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness, the artwork begins to take form. Depending on where you choose to stand, the way you angle or position your body to interact with the light, the work changes, enabling you to become a part of the art. Rainbow lights spill across the walls, the floors, and even your own reflection. Kimsooja utilizes the heightening of your senses to activate the experience, as you slowly traverse through the cavern's architecture.
“As the space was huge and has different chambers, it just became natural to experiment with all different kinds of light sources, and also light representations,” said Kimsooja. “So, it became almost like a laboratory of my lighting projects that I’ve been doing so far. And even more experiments that I haven’t tried yet.”
As I stood in the light, I couldn’t help but let my mind get a little bit flowery. Was I seeing the creation of human existence before me? Is this what the first big bang looked like? Was this a portal that an interdimensional friend would step out of? The nature of this space enables this to feel like an entirely different universe. Kimsooja is a remarkable artist whose work transports you there. –Shaquille Heath
Kimsooja: Weaving the Light is on view through November 30 at Cisternerne, Copenhagen, frederiksbergmuseerne.dk