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The magic of the Crystal Palace

The magic of the Crystal Palace

The magic of the Crystal Palace

Hold in your hands a glass prism and let Isaac Newton's discovery amaze you: sunlight decomposition. It sounds, in fact, a bit wanting in poetry, but the installation by the Korean artist Kimsooja in Madrid's Palacio de Cristal absolutely does justice to the enchantment this effect begets.

Find yourself through art: in the mind of Kimsooja

Born in South Korea in 1957, Kimsooja now lives in New York, but her works - installations, photographs, performances and videos - have travelled from the USA to Asia and Europe. The relationship between the self and the others and the role of men and women in our muddled world are her, by now international, themes and have contributed to her becoming one of the most famous Korean artists worldwide.

She has recently launched some customized projects in peculiar places, where fabrics, light, sounds and Tibetan, Gregorian and Islamic songs form one whole. What her works aim at, indeed, is the creation of sanctuaries: and this is what the Crystal Palace, in Madrid's Parque del Retiro, turned into in the summer of 2006, with Kimsooja's To breathe - A mirror woman. Which, as it happens, was very similar to Kimsooja's installation in the Korean Pavilion at 2013 Venice Art Biennale.

Light rainbows in the Palacio de Cristal

Let the wonders of natural light charm you, the ones that Kimsooja succeeded in capturing in the Crystal Palace: but how? Covering the windows of the metal-and-crystal building with a special translucent film and the floor with a mirrored layer. In this way, light can flow into the palace from outside, be decomposed by the diffraction film and reflect on the floor.

A thousand rainbows are thus cast, which wrap the visitors in a dream. An illusion completed by the sound of the artist's own breath that, with its different rhythms, conveys a variety of emotions that match the visitor's own feelings. Just as a shattering glass panel, this installation tears down the wall between one's own self and the others, enabling one to read one's own reflection in the mirror overlaying the Palace's floor.

Kimsooja's astonishing rainbows therefore cut out, even if just for a moment, the chaos of the world and spark you to a journey into your own soul, unveiling the wonders of the self, of the others and the treasure of light.


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