Some things are so obvious that they are often overlooked. Such is the case with the relationship between the nouns project andprojection. Indeed, many speakers would be sur- prised to discover that the noun project is directly related to the verb to project. Each of these words derives from the Latin verb projicere, meaning to throw or cast forward. Thus, when Mischa Kuball projects words onto disco ball, a map of the world onto the walls of a museum, basic geometric forms onto the architecture of the Bauhaus, or simply pure light out of an emty synagogue or onto the brick walls of a late Gothik church, he is not only projecting light, i.e. ‘throwing light forward‘ with the help of modern technology, he is also and especially ‘putting forward‘ an idea or concept. And when such projects come together in the form of a traveling exhibition or a comprehensive book with the titleproject rooms, yet another level of meaning is revealed. The museum gallery becomes a room for experi- mentation, a place where ideas are ‘thrown forward‘ through the projection of light – an immaterial substance of nature in the halls of a temple to the objects of human creativity.
On yet another level, Mischa Kuball‘s project rooms represent a new manifestation of the concept of the traveling exhibition. Rather than sending finished works of art on tour to be arranged according to a standardized exhibition plan conceived by a curator for highly varying museum spaces in various cities in Europe and the United States, the artist chose instead to send himself and his ideas on tour. In each of the participating institutions, the artist will present a site-specific project room conceived and designed especially and expressly for that particular spatial and geographical location. No two rooms will be the same, causing the dedicated viewer and admirer of the artist‘s work to visit all stations of the tour should he or she wish to see the whole exhibition.
Site-specificity lies at the core of Mischa Kuball‘s art. Although often described as an artist whose medium is light, his true interest is actually directed at the architectural space within which (or onto which) the light is projected. Thus, in the final analysis, one might argue that Kuball‘s true medium is actually architecture; light being merely a means to making the viewer aware of the architectural space surrounding him. Seen in this way, he is probably more closely related to traditional sculptors than he is to the generation of artists working with the so-called New Media. I am reminded of Michelangelo, who claimed that the forms and figures which he carved out of marble were already present in the soul of the stone, implying that the role of the artist is less tocreate than it is to reveal. And what better way to reveal something than to illuminate it, that is to say ‘to throw light upon it‘? And in the end, not only is the space illuninated (sic.), but the viewer is also ‘enlightened‘. He is made aware of the space surrounding him and, as a result, of his own place within that space and of the way in which his position or point of view alters that space through his very presence.
Seen in this way, Mischa Kuball‘s art is highly humanistic. His association with the New Media is merely a means to an end. Kuball‘s art is about human perception, the way we see and experience the world around us. He projects the viewer into a new realm of being by “throwing him forward“ into a new dimension. In doing so, he transforms the institutional space into public space – the enclosed space of the museum becomes an open space for the people, a place of discourse and exchange. The viewer is invited to participate in the project, indeed to become the project itself. I am reminded here of Joseph Beuys‘ concept of ‘Social Sculpture‘, with which he put forward the idea that the forming of society is a creative act in which all members of that Society take part. Mischa Kuball‘s project rooms are thus meeting places for people and ideas. They are sites for experimentation and confrontation. As ‘works in progress‘, they are never truly complete, since completion would imply stasis and stasis is the death of progress. Kuball‘s art lives from movement, from the constant flow of ideas thrown forward not only by the artist himself, but also and especially by the viewer, who becomes a partner in the project.
From the Publication: Project Rooms: Mischa Kuball. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln 1997
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