Cosmic Collisions

cosmic collisions

A highly original and enterprising exhibition which will bring together a land artist, an architect and not one but two cosmologists opens to the public at the Merz Gallery in Sanquhar, south west Scotland on the 23rd June 2017.

Cosmic Collisions: birth, rebirth and the universe is an unrepeatable meeting of creators and thinkers of unquestionable world renown for the Merz Gallery, for Sanquhar and beyond.

This is an exhibition that will see new work by Charles Jencks alongside insights into the computational cosmology of Carlos Frenk and Noam Libeskind. Complimenting and bridging the realms of art and cosmology will be the work of acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind, creator of some of the most extraordinary buildings in present day world architecture and the master planner of the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre site in New York – as well as father to cosmologist Noam Libeskind.

Each year since 2015 and around the time of the summer solstice Charles Jencks has continued to build his vision at the 50 acre land-art site which is the Crawick Multiverse, a mile and a half from Sanquhar and the Merz Gallery. This is a landscape, stunningly shaped and re-formed, to link the themes of space, astronomy and cosmology and, in the words of the artist, a landscape which brings us to the present and to our own metaphysics.

In the previous solstice gatherings and exhibitions of 2015 and 2016 collaborators and speakers have been drawn from leading science institutions across the UK and in 2017 the bar is raised once more.

Jencks is the instigator and the driving force behind Cosmic Collisions but the coming together of his fellow collaborators is much than simply a curated group in response to a theme. In Jencks, the Libeskinds of Daniel and Noam and in Carlos Frenk, Cosmic Collisions will also contain an inherent symmetry where, through their separate disciplines and life’s work, our collaborators have each shared so much at the overlap and intersections of their professional output along with added layers of friendship and family. 

This connectivity was no greater than in early 2017 when the four came together at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University.

The Institute is led by Professor Carlos Frenk, one of the originators of the theory of cold dark matter, and the occasion was the opening of the strikingly bold and exhilarating new building – the Ogden Centre and the new home for the ICC – designed by Daniel Libeskind.

The building exhibits dramatic convergences of axes and brings to mind so much of Libeskind’s very particular style and of his studio’s many projects around the world. Libeskind describes how the new building takes as its starting point the form of a spiral galaxy and it is clear that groundbreaking the work of Professor Frenk and his staff will have been the source of so much of the architect’s inspiration in the project.

Taking the group’s connections full circle, art lovers will be familiar with the many and varied land-art projects of Charles Jencks but perhaps are less familiar with his seminal writings on architecture theory.

With key works such as ‘The Language of Post-Modern Architecture’  (1977) these are publications which have shaped the thinking of a generation of archichitects and no less so than in the work of Daniel Libeskind – a point that the architect was keen to reinforce at the opening of his building.

So from cosmological inspired landscapes to architecture inspired by the cosmos and back again, this exhibition talks of cosmic collisions – such as the collisions of galaxies and the subsequent birth of billions of new stars. In doing so it also acts as a location for the collision of ideas – collisions that take place at the intersections of art and science and collisions that give birth to new ideas, over and over again.

Tim Fitzpatrick