Eva Schlegel: Multiple Voices
Eva Schlegel: Multiple Voices
When we think of language, for most, written words and symbols come to mind. Artist Eva Schlegel, on the other hand, creates a visual vernacular of sorts, utilizing light, perception and space to render snapshots of alternate ways of communicating and interpreting. As we welcome the artist for Multiple Voices, we are once again reminded of the power of contemporary art in communicating complex and nuanced ideas.
Schlegel’s Campbell Art Park installation acts as both a warm embrace for the artist’s return to Oklahoma Contemporary and a connection of international and local for the OKC community. Our ties with Schlegel date back to our new home’s inaugural exhibition, Bright Golden Haze in 2020.
“Eva and I began discussing the possibility of realizing her first work of public art in North America in the dark backward and abysm of time that was April 2020,” Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis says. “She was stuck by the quality of light in Oklahoma and the ways in which our building reflects and refracts light and color. These conversations about light, place and poetry combined with Eva’s brilliant approach toward public art to inspire Multiple Voices. After more than three years of dreaming about the sculpture, we’re thrilled to welcome Eva and her work back to Oklahoma Contemporary.”
The Austria-based artist specializes in multimedia projects that challenge viewers’ perception of space and light. In Schlegel’s work in Bright Golden Haze, Untitled (231), the artist utilized photography to capture disorienting views of out-of-focus passages and doorways, the soft light creating new angles.
"It's not what it seems. It's not a door where the light comes through," Schlegel said in an interview. "If you watch the angles and search for it, they're not right angles. It's not what it should be. But still you have the feeling that it's drawn or it's painted with light and shadow."
These blurred concepts of space and light extend into Schlegel’s installation works.
“I have a high attraction to architecture and architectural space,” Schlegel said. “But I’m very much intrigued by modernism, where they were trying to search for new spaces. … I really try to find new languages, find new spaces, find immaterial spaces, find new ideas to express in the work, and have people following me, so to say, in this way.”
The artist’s upcoming architectonic sculpture, Multiple Voices, is engineered of aluminum and tempered glass. While visiting the arts center in 2020, Schlegel was captivated by the building’s unique structure and the light in Oklahoma. The new installation’s polished and translucent surfaces aim to capture the surrounding environment. Each panel incorporates texts by local writers — Steve Bellin-Oka, Kimberly Blaeser and Joy Harjo — in order to tie the work more closely to the cultures within Oklahoma. The three poets’ works appear blurred on the glass panels, registering each poem as part of the sculpture, but rendering them cryptic to the viewer.
“Multiple Voices bears a signature feature in the artist’s work — the blur,” Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs Carina Evangelista says. “Testing the threshold of visibility or legibility, there is something seductive in the image or the word frozen in a fog of low resolution. The viewer’s imagination is teased into a kind of perception that hovers within a liminal space of understanding. The combination of the constantly changing views reflected by the mirror panels with the meaning of the poetry veiled by the heavy pixelation offers an experience far from fixed and finite.”
Viewers have the opportunity to decipher the text with an informative map, as well as an audio component of Schlegel reading the poems herself. These interactive elements encourage visitors to gather, play and learn through and around the sculpture. Ideas of reflection, contemplation and imagination emerge from the written text and sleek structure itself, urging all who engage to question the space they’re in, their perception and the perception of those around them.
“The sculpture itself is static but the viewer, walking toward or around it, activates the kinetic as the reflections change as one moves,” Evangelista says. “The sculpture is its own entity, but it is completed in countless ways by what it reflects, pulling into view one’s self and even the visible passage of time as light changes from day to night. The scarcity of variation in topography in Oklahoma is counterweighed by the generosity of its open sky that gifts us not only with stunning light but also with dramatic skyscapes, both of which will continuously be reflected by Schlegel’s installation.”
How do art and architecture speak to each other? When does place matter? Why do changing perspectives illuminate alternate views? How might these lessons inform our day-to-day lives? In our conversations with our neighbors? In the way we love our community?
Multiple Voices opens next Thursday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. with an opening reception and artist talk with Schlegel. All are welcome to the unveiling of this fascinating sculpture. Reserve your free tickets for an evening of reflection and celebration.
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