Interrogating flows of information and capital through the global economy drives much of Sam Lewitt‘s (b. 1981) oeuvre. In More Heat Than Light, the artist reroutes Kunsthalle Basel‘s electrical current used for lighting to instead create heat, thereby disrupting one of the exhibition space’s primary operations. This detour in the infrastructure of an institution that is meant to put things “on exhibit” thus exchanges optimal visibility for thermal inefficiency. The exhibition is an unstable thermo-regulating machine, with Lewitt’s custom-made, flexible, ultrathin heating circuits literalizing the artist’s idea that “an artwork can determine its site: really structure it and not just aesthetically activate it.” Wires dangle from the ceiling, transferring power from the gallery’s lighting grid to the copper-clad plastic heaters that in turn create only as much heat as the lighting grid will “feed” them. They are accompanied by texts, digital sensors, and a thermal camera that registers the temperature of the heaters and of visitors’ bodies, staging a confrontation between flexibility and enclosure, phenomenological experience and quantifiable data. A study in circulation, consumption, institutional infrastructure, and, importantly also, trust, More Heat Than Light is Lewitt’s first institutional solo show in Europe.
Sam Lewitt: More Heat Than Light, 01 Apr 2016 — 29 May 2016