Helen Mirra Du vent au vent
25.02.22 – 18.09.22 Rochechouart Museum
Rochechouart Museum is delighted to host the first major solo exhibition in France of works by the American artist Helen Mirra.
Since the mid-1990s, Helen Mirra has built up a body of poetic works that combine elements related to landscape, mathematics and language. Running through them is a strong vein of oriental philosophy as well as the influence of writers, particularly Americans such as Henry David Thoreau or the philosopher John Dewey best known for advocating experience-led education.
Helen Mirra has selected thirty works for her exhibition in Rochechouart, spanning a period from beginnings in the mid-1980s to the present day. They are specifically displayed in non-chronological order, emphasising especially her walks which she defines as an activity that is both humble and free.
The exhibition title “Du vent au vent” (From wind to wind) conveys poetic notions of impermanence and fleeting time. It also refers to the importance Helen Mirra attributes to her creative process of incorporation. She states that it is not about just “being in the wind but also about being the wind”. The word “vent” (wind) in the exhibition’s title evokes वात “Vāṭa” in Sanskrit, which means the airy life force or wind “that makes things move”.
Helen Mirra records landscape with a certain aesthetic preference for fragments but her intention is not to map out reality. The works invite reflection on the actions we carry out everyday, on the meanings of our acts and on their consequences for ourselves and our environment.
Du vent au vent marks a return to subjects approached in some of the museum’s founding exhibitions which proposed a poetic and radical vision of landscape. These include exhibitions at Rochechouart by Wolfgang Laib in 1989, Richard Long in 1990 and Michelangelo Pistoletto in 1993.
Here Sky-wreck, composed of triangles in a course indigo-dyed and woven fabric, echoes both the geodesic designs of utopian engineer Buckminster Fuller when he mapped the globe into a triangulated polyhedron and the space in which it is situated at the museum. Similarly her Field Recordings, also on display, reflects the experience of time and space. Mirra records meandering walks in the form of prints. Wandering around Bonn, Berlin and Zurich, she notates her experience by selecting objects she encounters—a blade of grass, a leaf or a twig—and then painting them with ink to imprint on a piece of woven linen.
Helen Mirra was born in Rochester (New York) in 1970 and lives and works at Muir Beach in California. Her work has been shown in many exhibitions around the world, for example at the Chicago Renaissance Society (2001), New York’s Whitney Museum (2002), KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin - Bonner Kunstverein - Museum Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich (2011), Culturgest in Lisbonne (2014) and recently at the Museo de Arte Zapopan in Mexico (2020). Her work was also exhibited at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), 30th São Paulo Biennale (2012) and 12th Havanna Biennale (2015). In 2020 Helen Mirra was the recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim fellowship.