Jennifer Steinkamp’s immersive video installation, Madame Curie, was commissioned by MCASD in 2011 for the downtown location’s Farrell Gallery. The work was inspired by Steinkamp’s research into atomic energy, atomic explosions, and the effects of these forces on nature. Marie Curie was the recipient of two Nobel Prizes for creating the theory of radioactivity, and discovering radium and polonium. She was also an avid gardener and lover of flowers. An enveloping, panoramic work, this piece activates a field of realistically rendered moving flowers and flowering trees, drawn from a list of over 40 plants mentioned in Marie Curie’s biography, written by her daughter, Eve Curie.
Steinkamp is one of the most accomplished digital video artists working today. Her video installations of projected animations engage space and architecture to foster moments of intense public intimacy in our age of new media. Physically overwhelming, her animations employ cutting-edge projectors and digital masking applications to enhance or contradict the architectural features they inhabit. Steinkamp’s art proposes a new type of bodily experience, but also exists in time, as the realistic renderings of shifting flowers and trees undergo momentous seasonal or climatic changes. As powerful environments, Steinkamp’s installations ask for a novel reading of architecture and take viewers beyond the physical boundaries of a built space to contemplate their surroundings as a factor of time, desire, and memory.
Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by gifts to the annual operating fund. Support for MCASD’s acquisition of Madame Curie was provided by Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.