Haroon Mirza's 'The National Apavilion of Then and Now' now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
6 April 2021
Haroon Mirza's 2011 installation The National Apavilion of Then and Now is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The work takes the form of a triangular-shaped anechoic chamber constructed by Mirza, in which a halo-shaped ring of LEDs linger above viewers’ heads. Always playing with concepts of the ready-made, Mirza chose the pyramidal foam walls of the anechoic chamber for their traditional use in sound insulated rooms. The LEDs generate a noise that intensifies as their light brightens, reaching almost unbearable levels before throwing the viewer into sudden darkness and silence, when the cycle slowly begins again.
The penetrative nature of the light and sound, which work in tension against the absorbing foam surroundings, leave the viewer with only a memory of the installation, and with striking, distorted retinal-images of the halo’s form.
Originally commissioned by Bice Curiger for the 54th Venice Biennale's ‘Illuminations’ exhibition, Mirza’s pavilion served as an alternative to the Biennale's national pavilions, creating an independent environment where the viewer’s sight and hearing senses are successfully muted, and then re-activated in a poetic and subtle performance of light and sound.
The National Apavilion of Then and Now will also be shown as the centrepiece of the and& festival in collaboration with STUK Arts Center in Leuven, Belgium, from 20–25 April. More information can be found on their website.