Mike & Doug Starn – Gravity of Light. A spectacular and vivid installation explores light and darkness.

13 November 2004 9 January 2005

Main hall, Färgfabriken

Artists: Mike Starn och Doug Starn

Färgfabriken is proud to announce that its major exhibition this autumn is Gravity of Light by Mike and Doug Starn from New York. A singular and important project, “Gravity of Light” took more than three years to develop, in dialogue with a large number of technical specialists and scientists. It will have its first-ever public showing at Färgfabriken and will then travel to galleries and museums around the world. Art Forum has chosen Gravity of Light as one of the ten most important exhibitions in 2004 – and this before it has even opened.

Since they came on to the international art scene at the end of the 1980s, Mike and Doug Starn have dedicated themselves to the phenomenon of light in all its complexity. They are fascinated by its duality: light and dark, illumination and density, energy and extinction. Their main instrument has been the camera – whose technology is also based on the shutter contrasting darkness with light.

With Gravity of Light, their artistic expression is entering a new phase – by means of a spectacular installation. At the centre of it, and as the only light source in the entire Main Hall at Färgfabriken, is a reconstruction of the carbon arc lamp, an early lamp which eventually led to both the welding flame and the light bulb. It was invented in England in 1804 by Sir Humphry Davy, and produces a very bright white light when an electric current flows across the gap between two carbon rods, forming an “arc”. Looking at it can be compared to seeing a sun indoors – and as viewers we become like the moth before the flame. The light source will produce some UV and magnetic radiation, just as the sun does, and visitors are asked to bear this in mind as they observe the work.

Seven large photographic works hang on the walls around the light. They are printed on thin rice paper and simply pinned to the walls. In the glow of the carbon arc lamp, a strange double phenomenon occurs. On the one hand we are drawn towards the strong light source; on the other, the lamp’s pulsation creates a mysterious movement in the photographs.

Art has always been about how we see and understand reality. With Gravity of Light, Mike and Doug Starn are taking a new and radical approach to this truism. So radical, in fact, that the viewer at first recoils from it – and then begins to look at images in a completely new way.

Mike and Doug Starn and their team from New York are in Stockholm to mount the installation. The artists will be present at the opening on 13 November; before that, they can be reached through Färgfabriken.

Färgfabriken is also producing a book about the exhibition, which will be published before the end of the year. In parallel with the show at Färgfabriken, Wetterling Gallery will be showing new works by Mike and Doug Starn. The Wetterling exhibition opens on the same day as Gravity of Light and a shuttle bus will be available to take visitors between the two shows on 13 November. The opening party for both will be at Färgfabriken