Kelly Akashi, Spirit Complex

Kelly Akashi, Spirit Complex, 2019

Medium: Red oak, hand‑blown glass, stereolithograph prints, ortho litho film in walnut artist's frame, cast led crystal, rope.

Size: 73 × 48 × 11 in. (185.4 × 121.9 × 27.9 cm)

Credits: Courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles


Audio Transcript

Akashi’s installations recall cabinets of curiosity, which first emerged in Europe in the 16th century as collections housed in rooms, showcasing wonders of the world to those who visited. These wunderkammer included things found in nature, such as shells and bones, relics of art and science, and man-made objects from faraway places.

They were also a site of entertainment, and as such, were often filled with counterfeit objects and fictions. Cabinets of curiosity were the precursors to the modern museum. But unlike many of today’s museums, these cabinets valued sensory experience with objects – oftentimes, a visitor could touch or smell an object as a way of understanding it.

Arranging her fascinating objects on shelves that move up, down, and across, Akashi’s complexes use the display case to draw us closer and to encourage us to explore the relationships between ourselves and the objects before us. Are these real shells? Are they made by nature, made by people, or made by machines?