Artpace Curator of Education Kaela Hoskings interviewed curator Paola Morsiani to uncover more about Micol Assaël’s exhibition Maybe Tomorrow.
Why did you choose Micol Assaël as your International Artist-in-Residence for Artpace?
When I was working at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, I was asked to give a talk on Italian artists and Micol happens to be from Rome, though her background is from Israel. I had experienced her work at the Venice Biennale, and I immediately thought that I wanted to connect her to Texas. I felt that her interests in natural events and occurrences that affect our bodies and our understanding of nature would be really enhanced by the experience of this landscape.
How do her works of art relate to science?
Micol really engages in science and the discovery of natural, physical occurrences. She is very interested in what material is, what matter is, and how nothing is really born or destroyed, but everything rather is transformed. These are very old concepts that have been with philosophers of science for a long time. (Micol’s background is actually in philosophy). Her work borrows from science, especially focusing on electric and magnetic fields and the presence that is not there to see, but is actually still there with us. She is interested in these invisible presences. This installation involves electricity or waves in a different format through magnetism.
How was this work created?
In this piece she constructs a sculpture, and the elements are highly magnetic. As a person walks on top of it with shoes whose soles are magnetic, they pick up some of the magnets. As they walk, it becomes increasingly more difficult. The magnets are laid out with the positives and negatives in an alternating pattern to build a very strong, unified field. The person walking disrupts the field and almost fights with it, but then the person is gone. In her work, there are constructions of environments that are difficult to live in, and therefore viewers are there only for a small time. Often they are difficult environments like a prison cell or a mad lab, but something magical has happened. The viewer has felt something happening on his or her body that was not clear or immediately visible. In some of her installations, you can shock a person with a charge. Sometimes her environments can be very violent and frightening, and sometimes you walk through and do not even realize what is happening.