Josiah McElheny: The Past...
American sculptor Josiah McElheny (b.1966) transforms the Gallery into a kaleido...
American sculptor Josiah McElheny (b.1966) transforms the Gallery into a kaleidoscopic hall of mirrors. Seven large-scale mirrored sculptures are arranged as multiple reflective screens on which he projects reconfigured abstract films.
McElheny is inspired by the history of Gallery 2, once a library reading room. Founded in 1896 to bring enlightenment values to impoverished Londoners, it became a crucible for the founding of British Modernism in the 1900s by émigré artists and intellectuals. McElheny gives a 21st century expression to this historic movement, plunging the viewer into a light-filled kinetic zone of geometric forms, biomorphic shapes and radiant colours.
The selection of films for McElheny’s reconfigurations is made by architectural historian Iain Boyd Whyte renowned for his work on the architects known as ‘The Crystal Chain’. Based in Germany in the 1910s, their fantastical architecture aimed to fuse the lucidity of glass with the transcendental qualities of the crystal. Their exquisite drawings and the writings of Paul Scheerbart, the poet that inspired this group, are a key reference for the work of Josiah McElheny and provide the context for this sculptural cinema.
This commission, generously supported by the pioneering arts sponsor Bloomberg, is accompanied by a fully illustrated book that tracks the genesis of the project and its complex historical referents.
The Bloomberg Commission invites an international artist to create an annual site-specific artwork inspired by the rich history of the former library. Bloomberg’s support reflects its commitment to innovation, and its ongoing efforts to expand access to art, science and the humanities. Additional support provided by the Wingate Scholarships. With thanks to the White Cube.
Images: The Bloomberg Commission: Josiah McElheny: The Past Was A Mirage I Had Left Far Behind. Photographs by Todd-White Art Photography