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Isola & Norzi Revive Jacques Cousteau's Utopian Dream at Art in General
Isola and Norzi, Bated Breath. © All rights reserved.
NEW YORK, NY.- Reviving Jacques Cousteau’s utopian dream of living underwater, Isola and Norzi’s first solo U.S. exhibition, Liquid Door is an ongoing deep sea exploration that begins as a series of ephemeral and performative aquatic investigations into the exhibits at the New York Aquarium at Coney Island, Brooklyn this Spring and ultimately end at Cousteau’s original underwater structure off the coast of Sudan. Inspired by the ephemeral threshold of the liquid door– a surface between air and water created only by the pressure of the air inside an underwater living space –the resulting exhibition at Art in General features a series of new works that examine the aesthetic, social, and domestic interface between man and sea.

Isola and Norzi’s work has explored architecture as a site for minimal, poetic gestures that reveal the threshold between fiction and possibility. These interventions take shape as sculptures and installations that uncover hidden light shafts, patterns in the dust, and embedded telescopes that shift both perception and expectation. Inspired by the idea of a flooded museum as new site for such intervention, the artists’ recent work has taken them across the Indian Ocean and diving to the underwater ruins of Jacques Cousteau’s Starfish House in the Red Sea.

As an integral part of this ongoing research the artist’s collaboration with the New York Aquarium reveals new possibilities for underwater exploration. The resulting exhibition at Art in General features a series of new works inspired by this research and the Aquarium itself. Combining references to Italian Mannerism, minimalist forms, and Cousteau’s architectural plans for an underwater aquarium, the artist’s sculptural works reckon with the possibility of deep sea domestic life and the prospect of failure inherent the proposal for living underwater. Likewise, photographs and video work play with the reflective and revealing characteristics of both water and glass. Liquid Door repurposes the mise-en-scène of this other-worldly, deep sea experience, to create a formal exploration of the familiar structures of the aquarium as the threshold of perception and imagination.

Hilario Isola and Matteo Norzi (b. Torino, 1976) have worked collaboratively since 2003, pooling their backgrounds and interests in art history, museology, and architecture. The duo has exhibited internationally, including at David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Smack Mellon, NY; Sculpture Center, NY; Artists Space, NY; China National Academy, Beijing; HDLU, Zagreb; Valentina Bonomo Arte Contemporanea, Rome; Spinola Banna Foundation for the Arts, Turin. Their works have been reviewed in various publications, including Artforum, Flash Art, C Magazine, Above Magazine, and Abitare. In 2008/2009, they were Artists in Residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York and the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA. Isola and Norzi have lived and worked in New York since 2007.

Liquid Door was created in collaboration with The New York Aquarium as part of Art in General’s New Commissions program, which is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.


New York Aquarium | Jacques Cousteau | Isola and Norzi | "Liquid Door" |


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