Marlena Kudlicka, Arturo Moya, Tomás Saraceno, Alba Triana, Zimoun

The day the universe changed

Apr 14 - Jul 21, 2023

 Alba Triana, Zimoun, Tomás Saraceno, Arturo Moya, Marlena Kudlicka

Max Estrella is pleased to present The day the universe changed, a group show including works by artists Marlena Kudlicka, Arturo Moya, Tomás Saraceno, Alba Triana and Zimoun. The title is inspired by the BBC television show with the same name. Aired in 1985, the ten episodes written and presented by the scientific historian James Burke, focused on some of the major scientific and technological discoveries since the Middle Ages. Its main goal was to ignite reflection on the essence of reality and its dependence on our capacity to perceive. A capacity which is constantly evolving as technological progress broadens the frontiers of knowledge, changing the universe itself.

The works included in this exhibition call out the spectators so as to make them conscious of the limitations of our reach in understanding the world that surrounds us, both individually and as a collective. From this humble stance, we are invited to enable our understanding of the forces that affect us, even if they may be imperceptible or go unnoticed, as well as adjusting the models of coexistence as our perception of reality becomes more precise.

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Four sculptures by Marlena Kudlicka greet the visitor at the beginning of their path through the exhibition. Labeled as a linguistic sculptor, her practice is the result of an interest in the mechanisms of language which allow us to share what we see with others. In fact, communication about the world we perceive is precisely her field of study. She claims communication adopts the shape of sound images, that is to say, words. These never get to be exactly like the phonemes which make up the spoken expression. There is an inevitable discrepancy, similar to what occurs between the initial concept of a work and its material concretion. Thus, there is an aim to reconcile the spoken language with that of the visual arts. Kudlicka deep dives into the process of creating shapes and reflects on the technical limitations which define the equilibrium between error and precision. It is this discourse which highlights the leading role of technology when defining the perceptible.

Technology is precisely the medium employed by the musician and artist Arturo Moya to articulate his practice. He presents Monster Game, a sound installation made up of 22 soccer balls, each of which emits a different soundtrack when kicked. Inspired by the stammering study which was known as Monster Study, the sound archives correspond to the interviews held with 22 orphans who were the subjects of the study. It was led by psychology professor Wendell Johnson from the University of Iowa in 1939. Mary Tudor, Johnson’s postgraduate, was responsible for carrying the fieldwork out and conducting those conversations. The aim was to record the impact of positive and negative reinforcement on speech abilities. Monster Game is part of the series Violencias del decir, a project which reflects on the violence of the spoken word, which was support by the 2019’s edition of the Comunidad de Madrid’s Creation of Visual Arts grant. The piece has been created in special collaboration with actress Elena Anaya, who voices Mary Tudor.

The action of kicking the soccer balls to activate the audios intersects the concept of game, something which should be innocuous, with the cruelty suffered by the 22 children that were part of the study.

Tomás Saraceno has developed a discourse which aims to challenge our ways of knowing and perceiving the world He does that from an activist environmentalist conscience and intellectual coordinates rooted in architecture, arts and sciences. His practice suggests alternative visions of the world where human beings adopt conscious ways of living on the planet so that coexistence between all its inhabitants is possible. He is inspired by models found in nature and by green strategies such us sustainability and renewable processes.

Saraceno presents Aeolic Cluster and Ibytu, two blown glass sculptures. Both titles, – Ibytu is Guarani for wind -, draws the viewer’s attention to the conscious process of breathing as an action that is common to all living beings. The wind is considered by Guaranies to be Earth’s breath or breathing. The mere fact that these sculptures are the result of blowing air into a hot glass magma calls back to the importance of this element as one of pillars of life: connecting us all whilst nonetheless being an object of inequalities.

Within the scope of sound art, Alba Triana’s Delirious fields is also part of this exhibition. It is an installation made up of a set of eleven metallic spheres, each of which is suspended in the air and orbiting around a magnetic field generated by a copper bobbin. A probability code determines the intensity of each field in real time. From these fluctuations and the disposition of each system – distances between spheres and bobbins – emerges a random choreography characterized by underlying patterns.

Each system is complemented by a resonant rod, tuned to a slightly different frequency from the others. Eventually, the spheres hit the rods generating a delicate superposition of its resonances and subtle alterations of loudness. Through the movement of the spheres and its sounds, the work highlights the inseparable connection between our physical and tangible surroundings and the imperceptible forces which govern the natural world.

The natural world and the forces which govern it also are sources of inspiration for the Swiss artist Zimoun who presents two sound pieces as a part of the exhibition. Originating in the everyday and industrial environment (with a predominant presence of cardboard), the listing of materials composing each work serves as its title. DC motors activate a mechanical action that produces sound and that, once turned on, functions freely as a performance of said materials. The design of each work serves as a controlled environment in which chaos has its place. The latter is ultimately the one that defines a unique interaction between its components. Zimoun labels this creative vein as Primitive Complexity, which relates his work to natural phenomena where Cartesian patterns coexist with supposed chaotic forces that only technological advances allow us to understand.

This exhibition is part of the MMMAD Festival Urbano de Arte Digital de Madrid program, which every May transforms the city in the international capital of digital art, with an extensive program of exhibitions, installations, performances and  workshops.


Marlena Kudlicka, (Tomaszów Lubelski 1973) lives and Works in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited in the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart de Berlin, MACBA in Buenos Aires, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Museum of Contemporary Art of Zagreb, Zacheta National Gallery of Warsaw, Museum of Art Lodz in Poland, Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, y Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl in Germany, among others.

Arturo Moya Villén, (Albacete 1966) lives and Works in Madrid. He has exhibited in MACBA, MNCARS, IVAM, Fundació Joan Miró Barcelona, Maison de Radio France, Paris, Cultural Centre of Spain in Mexico, Fundidora Park Monterrey, Fonoteca Nacional de México, Institut fur Neüe Musik der Hdk Berlín, State University of New York Buffalo, among others. He has been president of the Electroacoustic Music Association in Spain and the president of EX, Electronic and Experimental Art Association.

Tomás Saraceno (San Miguel de Tucumán, 1973) lives and works in Berlin. His work has been subject to individual exhibitions in The Shed NY, Cisternerne museum de Copenhague, Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Palais de Tokyo, y Fosun Foundation Shanghai among the most recent ones. He is part of the Moma NY, Miami Art Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Moma San Francisco, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxemburg, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Musée d’art contemporain of Montréal, among others.

Alba Triana, (Bogotá 1969) lives and works in Miami. Her work has been exhibited in the biennale Némo des Arts Numériques of Paris, in the Centquatre-Paris, in the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, the International Symposium of Electronic Arts, in the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, and in the ArtCenter South Florida among others. Her work is part of the Otazu collection foundationand the Solo collection, y la Colección de Arte del Banco de la República de Colombia. Recently she has been the recipient of the 2023 CIFO Foundation price.

Zimoun, (Bern, 1977) lives and works in Bern. His work has been exhibited in the Museum Haus Konstruktiv Zurich; Museum of Contemporary Art MAC Santiago de Chile; Nam June Paik Art Museum Seoul; Museo Reina Sofia; Ringling Museum of Art Florida; Mumbai City Museum; National Art Museum Beijing; LAC Museum Lugano; Museum MIS São Paulo; Muxin Art Museum Wuzhen; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Le Centquatre Paris; Museum of Fine Arts MBAL; Kunstmuseum Bern; Blackburn Museum; Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia EKKM, among others.

Text: Gregorio Cámara