Swedish artist lights up Krannert

By Erica Magda

“Somewhere along the axes between familiar and foreign, object and image, idea and form, between solid and shell, shell and transparency … is the zone in which David Svensson creates,” said Judy Fox, curator of Svensson’s exhibit opening today at Krannert Art Museum.

His work of three-dimensional illuminated pods, collectively called SpaceLight, is premiering at a United States museum for the first time in the glass link between the School of Art and Design and the Krannert Art Museum, 500 W. Peabody Dr.

“I’m really glad I was invited,” said the emerging, 33-year-old Swedish artist.

Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Museum, Svensson will speak about his work, which is on display through Oct. 22.

Each illuminator, as the pods are called, was created between 2002-2003 of a brightly colored nylon cloth supported by metal, which is illuminated by halogen lights and other bulbs. They resemble enlarged, surreal Japanese lamps.

“The most interesting, special thing is to come here and meet new people and to see (SpaceLight) in (a new place),” he said. The illuminators have been displayed in such diverse places as a barn, on top of a New York apartment building, and in Norway and Sweden.

Svensson has an obsession with light and how it affects people and changes in environments.

At the Museum, the reflections on the floor, in the windows, and its visibility from outdoors, especially at night, he said, transform SpaceLight in a whole new realm of interpretation.

“(The) works hold the capacity to change (and) to respond; they invite our physical interaction with them,” Fox said. “They illuminate our understanding of a world we take for granted and they suggest an imagined realm.”

Svensson is interested in seeing how people connect to this new space.

“The students that have been around it so far seem excited about what they’re seeing,” said Alan Mette, associate director for Recruitment and External Events in the School of Art and Design.

Svensson heard students whisper that they look like strange vegetables and snowmen as he set up the exhibit.

“It’s really something you have to see to appreciate,” said Museum Director of Marketing Diane Schumacher.

After SpaceLight ends, Svensson will travel to the University’s Chicago gallery, I Space, 230 West Superior St., for his exhibit called LightSpace, which is open from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23.

“This is the first time in a long time that Krannert has done a collaboration with I Space,” said Fox.

There he will design sun-controlled films for the glass windows that permit varying amounts of light to enter.

“(The film) subtly alters and reshapes the character of space by modulating the light that enters it,” as the Museum brochure explains.

In November he will display SpaceLight in London. Svensson’s next project will be constructing a light fixture in a Health Care Center in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Comforted by the familiarity and subtlety of this work – its forms, allusions, and the function is suggests – we are drawn into a place where assumptions and history hold no sway, where we become explorers, participants, navigators,” Fox wrote of Svensson’s work.