Leo Xu Projects presents the gallery’s first solo exhibition of Berlin-based artist Nina Canell entitled “Reflexology”. Set across three floors of the space, Canell’s characteristically minimal sculptural works of found and functional objects explore the often overlooked networks and natural phenomena that surround us.
Taking “reflexology” as a starting point for discourse, Canell examines the multi-faceted meanings of both the word and its etymology. In its physical manifestation, reflexology finds itself a medical and therapeutic function based on the belief that specific points of our heads, hands and feet correlate to specific areas of our bodies, whereas reflexology’s philosophical denotation refers to the connection between action and behavior against the human psyche.
In aiming to consider our innate reflexes within the realms of both these definitions, Canell deliberately presses the viewer’s buttons by challenging the manner in which one looks and sees. Soft Corner (2013) epitomizes exactly the process of how our reflexes work; when faced with two copper pipes juxtaposed to sit almost perpendicular and slightly off one another, there is a natural desire to fill in the gap by joining up the line. Knowing that, Canell – quite literally – illuminates the path she knows the viewer is to take, forcing us to reflect on the way in which we react when set against determined points.
Playing also upon the phonetic similarities between “reflex” and “reflect”, Canell utilizes her half-spoken sculptures to ruminate the varying speeds of the two actions. Reflex conveys the instant and immediate, whereas reflect holds the opposite tempo, yet both insinuate a similar action of response. By stripping operation away from her functional objects of industrial produce, Canell is able to halt time and any sense of continuity as to entangle the paradoxes of our surroundings
- Nina Canell, “Soft Corner” Copper, neon, cables, 5000 V, 2013
- Nina Canell, “Brief Syllable (Phosphoric)” High voltage electricity cable, acrylic, concrete 2016