Energy, danger, tenderness and beauty are the topoi emanating from the exhibition Fomuška by Micol Assaël (born in 1979, Rome). For the first time in her young but very intense oeuvre, Assaël has been bringing together at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum several hundred delicate, minimalist drawings from her early work phase with a machine developed especially for the show. A main wing of the Fridericianum, as well as the visitors, were being electrically charged; the machine noisily sprayed clouds of steam in which pronged lightning bolts were discharged.

Scientific and physical phenomena, magnetism, electrical engineering and energetic tensions, as well as their interaction with the human body, are central in Micol Assaël’s artistic work. Incorporation of the body, above all the body of the recipient, is an important component of her expansive installations. While in the last 40 years performance artists have often made their own bodies the subject of their studies, Micol Assaël expands the performative element to all participants, creates extended communication and additionally gives her work a processual character. After leaving the installation, the physical and mental experience remains in the visitor’s memory.

The installation Mindfall (2004), which Micol Assaël developed for the Manifesta 5 in San Sebastian and showed in an altered form in 2008 at Johann König in Berlin, already points to her extraordinary passion and fascination for natural and technological phenomena: The artist placed shrilly clattering motors in an antiquated, closed-down industrial building. The room was filled with noise and the smell of diesel, making it difficult for visitors to stay there. At the 4th Berlin Biennial, she forced visitors to fight against cold wind currents and had water drip from the ceiling. For her solo presentation Chizhevsky Lessons (2007) at the Kunsthalle Basel, Micol Assaël developed in cooperation with the Moscow Physics Research Institute a work that transformed the exhibition space into an electromagnetic field and gave visitors a noticeable electric charge. The visitors’ palpable perceptions ranged from a tingling feeling in the body and head, to hair standing on end, to warmer hands and fingers. They could create a discharge by touching another person.

For Fomuška, Micol Assaël again worked with the Moscow scientists, developing a machine which actually touches and agitates visitors, giving them an electrostatic charge. Inside clouds of steam streaming loudly from the machine lightning bolts flash, appealing to the senses. The artist juxtaposed this experience with giant glass display cases containing more than 300 very tender and extremely minimalist drawings in which she tries to express her feelings. After returning from a trip to Iceland, she made one of these small-scale drawings a day for over a year. Thus, Micol Assaël not only touches the body of the visitor, but also conveys her own existence via her drawings, both mentally and physically.

Fomuška is realised in collaboration with Secession, Vienna and Museion, Bolzano.


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