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Brigitte Kowanz

ESCAPE, 2015

LED, mirrors, glass

60 x 60 x 60 cm

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021

Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi

 

Brigitte Kowanz has established an international reputation as one of the foremost light artists of our time. Since the 1970s she has realized not only a host of luminous wall and floor objects, but also a number of architectural light interventions. With her works she explores the spatio-temporal qualities of light and renders them in artistic form. To this end, she frequently combines the medium of light with mirrors and language to produce works of great poetic effect. By preference Kowanz uses white light, which contains every hue, and for a long time she worked exclusively with fluorescent tubes; only in recent years has she begun also to employ LEDs – as in her floor piece ESCAPE.

 

The work consists of a cube of mirrors which one can look into, and which contains a smaller cube with mirror faces. The five visible sides of the interior cube bear various Morse code signs in dots and dashes, which has been etched into the glass surfaces by sandblasting, and which assume a white glow thanks to a light source set behind them. Together they spell the word ESCAPE: a single dot represents E in Morse, three dots S, and combinations of dots and dashes stand for the letters P, A and C. Already since the 1990s, Brigitte Kowanz has used not only printed and handwritten letters, but also the Morse alphabet, which enables information to be transmitted by means of just two elements. Kowanz uses this binary code chiefly for objects conceived with stereometrical clarity and simplicity, such as ESCAPE.

 

In this cubic piece, the basic parameters of Kowanz’s art – light, mirrors, writing and space – interweave to create a singular perceptual experience. As a result of the transparency of the material and the mirror effect, every surface in the light cube seems to dissolve in our minds, while the work and its surroundings merge visually into one another. More than that: the multitude of repeating positive and inverted reflections create an impression of staggered spatial depth with countless Morse signs extending out to infinity. ESCAPE is not merely about suspending the boundaries between object and space, it above all shows that light does not concede any boundaries: it does not allow itself to be captured, it “escapes”, is dynamic and expansive. Thus Kowanz’s cuboid sculpture is above all a subtle reflection on the unfathomable nature of light, its fleeting manifestations, and its strong, immaterial presence.

 

Brigitte Kowanz

1957 born in Vienna

Lives and works in Vienna