This October, Iván Navarro transforms Paul Kasmin Gallery at 293 Tenth Avenue into a synesthetic environment with Mute Parade. The Chilean-born artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery continues his ongoing exploration of light, sound, and language to engage with issues of power, migration, and propaganda.
Upon entering Mute Parade, the viewer is confronted by a towering pyramid of six drums with the words HIGH, TONE, TUNE, BASS, MUTE, and DEAF embedded in LED lights. This monumental work, titled TUNING, 2015, produces a visual representation of sound while simultaneously removing and negating the original function of the instruments; ‘playing a song,’ in the absence of sound. In the center of the adjacent room, two freestanding drums-- each six-feet in diameter-- incorporate neon, LED, mirrors, and electricity to produce Navarro’s iconic infinite vanishing points. Circular texts, written in light, repeat the words KICKBACK and KNOCKNOCKNOCK in a seemingly boundless loop. The inherent silence and stillness of the artworks creates an uncanny perception of audio and movement, probing the relationship between sight and sound.
A final installation consists of four 6 x 6 foot structures that make up the Impenetrable Room (2016). This new compositional innovation co-opts the materials and format of portable “road cases,” which are customarily used to transport and protect musical instruments. Refitting the cases with mirrors and neon light, Navarro transforms these static objects into deep spaces that appear to reverberate in perpetuity. Silent and monolithic, these self-contained rooms resonate with unspoken narrative power.
Throughout the exhibition, black and white paper squares are scattered across the floors of all three galleries. The words “Read You” and “Loud Unclear,” printed on opposite sides of the cards, call attention to the disjunction between the visual and auditory aspects of communication. Informed by the aesthetics and rhythms of military parades, Mute Parade contemplates the juxtaposed feelings of celebration and intimidation that martial music begets.
Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, where he grew up during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Navarro’s experiences under the regime continue to fuel his examination of electric energy and sound as symbols and tools of power. He is known internationally for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light. Navarro represented Chile at the 53rd Venice Biennale, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Recent solo and group exhibitions include Una Guerra Silenciosa e Imposible, CorpArtes Foundation, Santiago, Chile (2015); Under the Same Sun, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); South London Gallery, London (2016); Storylines, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); This Land is Your Land, Madison Square Park, New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC; and North Park Center, Dallas, TX (2014 - 2016); 299 792 458 m/s, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea (2014); Where is the Next War?, Daniel Templon Gallery, Paris (2013); Light Show, Hayward Gallery, London; Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; and CorpArtes, Santiago, Chile (2013 - 2016); Iván Navarro: Fluorescent Light Sculptures, Frost Museum of Art, Miami (2012); Nacht und Nebel, Fondazione VOLUME!. Rome, Italy (2012); the Prospect.2 Biennial in New Orleans (2011); Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York (2010); HomeLessHome, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel (2010); Nowhere Man, Towner Contemporary Art Museum, Eastbourne, UK, and Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (2009); Threshold, Chilean Pavilion, Aresnal, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Don Quijote, Witte de Witt. Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2006); and Artificial Light, MOCA at Goldman Warehouse, Miami (2006).
Navarro’s work is held in the public and private collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (Paris), CAB (Burgos), Towner Contemporary Art Museum, (Eastbourne, UK), LVMH Collection (Paris), Saatchi Collection (London), Martin Z. Margulies Warehouse (Miami, FL), Fundación ARCO (Madrid) and the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection (Turkey), amongst others.