Zimoun is currently one of the most exciting names of the global contemporary art scene, best known for his large-scale site-specific installations. This Swiss artist designed and produced one of such installations for the Pogon Jedinstvo large hall – a venue that numerous local civil society organizations use for their programme activities and which is now awaiting a thorough architectural reconstruction, together with the entire complex of the former Jedinstvo factory. The story behind the space is key to this installation, as well as to Zimoun’s work in its entirety. The characteristics of the spaces in which Zimoun presents his installations, their acoustic and visual features, the character and historical identity of these venues are always the starting point for his work.
The 400 m² black hall located at the Sava river bank, with its acoustic imperfections, industrial character and tremendous importance for the preservation and the development of the independent cultural scene of the city of Zagreb, is the inspiration for this specific installation. It is a result of thorough research of the space and its possibilities and challenges, of testing, selection of material and prototyping.
Like all of Zimoun’s installations, this one as well is recognizable by the repetitive use of identical elements in the architectural structure. There is something obsessive and seductive about this repetition and reduction, the monotonous sequencing of the same form, material, size, structure and mechanism. This overemphasized uniformity highlights the essence of Zimoun’s work – coincidence and unpredictable behaviour atypical for such a surgically precise arranged system. From this sea of uniformity, an unexpected difference arises in the endless variations, and the installation starts to behave organically, arbitrarily, like a living organism. The sound becomes more familiar, it reminds us of nature, noise, ecosystems, swarming. Although Zimoun’s aesthetic is profoundly minimalistic, there is this vitality and poetics that always emerges.
Zimoun is formally really close to the minimalistic music that abundantly uses repetition as a tool of expression, as well as to aesthetically related architectural practices. Curators often call him a sculptor of sound. And the sound in his works is a plastic, architectural element. The space in which the installation is set is redefined through sound that is produced mechanically, with analogue technology, in accordance to Zimoun’s artistic practice that, in most cases, does not include the use of computers, algorithms, software and microcontrollers. This sound is generated from motion and predefined by the characteristics of the material being used. Whether it is cardboard, wood, paper, cotton, metal, the material is always set in motion by simple mechanisms – DC motors, air flow, pendulum. While in interaction, these elements in motion create millions of microtones merged into layered, dense sound, different in every corner of the space. The complex rhythm textures created through organic irregularities are playful and ironic, like animal swarms in nature, and they remind us of exactly this sound from nature – the one that is tactile, physically tangible, present.
There is one other thing inherent to Zimoun’s work. His installations are in a way left anonymous – he does not give them titles but mere descriptions of the material used: 435 DC motors, 2030 cardboard boxes size 35x35x35 cm, 58 kg wood, 1.8 km rope. Therewith Zimoun additionally emphasizes the individual interpretation of each work, which is very important to the artist and gives priority to associativity and experience without giving any instruction for the analysis of the work. Although such an approach can be very risky and even elitist compared to different types of audience, Zimoun’s installations quickly become very familiar due to their lucid quality. Instead of constriction, they offer direct communication on many semantic levels, through a spectrum of sensory responses, impressive forms and movements that can be read easily and intuitively.
In his first presentation to the Croatian audience, Zimoun will contrast the industrial character of the Pogon Jedinstvo black hall to the fragility of big white paper sheets in motion. The work is produced exclusively for Pogon Jedinstvo, but at the same time, it reflects Zimoun’s recognizable artistic expression. Although the form gives a monumental impact, this installation is as well playful and charming, with movement and sound becoming the centre of this vivid energy.
text by Kontejner