“Archive of Mind” by South Korean artist Kimsooja invites you to sit at a large oval wooden table, spotlit in a darkened gallery at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, and shape a ball of clay between your hands.
“Quietly focus on rolling the clay into a smooth ball. Push it to the center of the table when you’re done,” a sign on the wall says. There it joins hundreds of gray and brown balls made by previous visitors.
“Forming your ball of clay can have a calming, meditative effect. The balls you make evoke the rounded forms of planets or atoms,” according to the gallery sign.
Personally, I found myself in something of a hurry during my visit and struggled at entering a meditative, calm state of mind. It didn’t help that I couldn’t keep my mind from feeling somewhat skeptical of the project’s grand ambitions.
“The cyclical act introduces a polarity between symmetrical forces of the participants’ palms that transpose their state of mind into matter and matter into void,” according to the website of the artist, who splits her time between New York and Seoul.
Or, as the sign at the museum, says, “By sitting at the communal table and adding your gesture to those of your fellow visitors, you are demonstrating how small individual actions can accumulate and become powerful over time.”
Try your hand at the participatory project on view at the museum from June 22, 2019, to Jan. 20, 2020.
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