So often our vision plays tricks on us: you think you see someone you know from the corner of your eye. You turn and blink, and the person is gone. Was what you saw real or just a play of the light, or even a whim of your imagination? There is no way of knowing for sure.
This September SEEN welcomes the installation Kopflose Mühle (1993-2002) by Swiss artist Markus Raetz. It is remarkable that, despite being arguably one of the most important contemporary artists in Switzerland, his works have rarely ever been seen in Belgium. This ‘headless mill’, which took him nine years to finish, is one of his largest mobile sculptures, yet only seldomly has it been on public display. The installation takes up most of the room and, in a way, epitomizes his explorations of the impact of light and shadow on human perception. It consists of two motor-driven wheels and a large number of aluminum slices spinning around a light. All these elements work together to create the illusion of a human head in
the center of the installation.
Although he works in a variety of disciplines, including sculpture and photography, the artist’s primary medium is drawing. It is said he has created over 30,000 pieces over the past decades. In fact, even his sculptures can be viewed as drawings in three-dimensional space. In this sense they are drawings of the imagination, with shapes suggested through the use of contrast, light and shadow, and a minimum of lines.
Probably the most important part of Raetz’s work is the viewer. The success of any visual representation is, after all, contingent on the presence, location and physicality of the perceiver. Indeed, one’s perception of Kopflose Mühle changes depending on one’s position; not only does the installation move by itself, it also changes according to the viewer’s movement. This reciprocal aspect of the work lends it a powerful intimacy. Furthermore, it is most unlikely that two people standing in the room will experience the same image. In these ways, the relation of each viewer to the work can be said to be unique.
For the exhibition 'Markus Raetz: Kopflose Mühle' at SEEN (Sept. 27, 2019 - Nov. 23, 2019).