This October, Iván Navarro transforms Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 Tenth Avenue, into a synesthetic environment with his exhibition Mute Parade. The Chilean-born artist’s second solo show with the gallery continues Navarro’s ongoing use of light, sound, and language to engage with issues of power, migration, and propaganda.
In the first gallery the viewer enters a labyrinth of six 6 x 6 foot structures that together make up the Impenetrable Room (2016). This new body of work 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 recede towards infinity. In this installation, undulating lines of green neon diagrammatically echo the propagation of sound waves through a medium. Silent and monolithic, these self-contained rooms resonate with unspoken narrative power.
The adjacent gallery features two freestanding 6 foot diameter drums that incorporate neon, LED lights, mirrors, and electricity. Circular texts written in light repeat the words KICKBACK and KNOCKNOCKNOCK – giving the appearance of an endless loop. At the center of the back wall stands TUNING, a pyramid of six towering drums. Navarro combines the drums with mirrors and the words HIGH, TONE, TUNE, BASS, MUTE, and DEAF to create a visual representation idea of sound (or noise) while at the same time removing and negating the original function of the instruments. This is a way of “playing a song" without making any sound. Throughout the exhibition, the new works employ silence and stillness to create an uncanny perception of sound and movement and to explore the relationship between seeing and hearing.
Black and white paper squares are scattered across the floors of both 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, the exhibition contemplates the juxtaposed feelings of celebration and intimidation that martial music is intended to create.
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. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.