In the olden days – when people still thought the earth was flat – the universe was sometimes compared to the inside of a human skull. This was our notion of the infinite that lies beyond the world we live in, as a reflection of the infinity of our powers of thought and perception. This comparison, and, using the Hubble Space Telescope, the discovery of the most far-flung corners of the universe, are the basis of Ultra, Ultra Deep Fields, by the Brooklyn artist Maya Hayuk.
This exhibition, developed especially for MU, is this versatile artist’s first major solo presentation in the Netherlands. She made a name for herself internationally with her spectacular murals, and her graphic art, performances and collaborative projects with, among others, the Barnstormers and bands such as Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, Devendra Banhart and The Beastie Boys.
Maya Hayuk, who has always been fascinated by planetariums and their way of literally bringing space closer to us, does not like to waste her time looking at nothing. This was also true of the astronomers who first dared to aim the Hubble telescope at areas in space that had thus far been known as empty white spots. They did not know whether they were going to see anything, but were convinced that there had to be something there. With the help of coloured filters – blue, green, red and almost infrared – they sure enough discovered that, what up until that moment had been regarded as absolute emptiness, actually contained the most distant galaxies ever perceived.
For the first time in human history it was possible to depict the oldest galaxies that had come into existence during the so-called ‘dark era’, the time shortly after the Big Bang when the first celestial bodies began to heat up the cold, dark universe again. The resulting clouds of light were given the name Ultra Deep Fields.
Maya Hayuk’s work, be it her large abstract murals or her smaller works on paper, is imbued with symmetry and colour. It is midway between the stellar clouds that the Hubble Telescope allowed us to see and the abstract patterns on Mexican blankets, Rorschach tests and holograms. Using a symbolism that also leaves room for spirituality, she expresses her love for what is positive and whole. For Hayuk, love eventually conquers evil, a motto that she also upholds as a member of the Positive Future Prophecy Posse.
With Ultra Ultra Deep Fields, Maya Hayuk builds on the installation commissioned by the 2009 Scope Art Fair, which she realised jointly with fellow artist Ben Wolf, and a recent exhibition at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.
Visitors to the Ultra, Ultra Deep Fields - Hayuk prefers to call them passengers – are given the chance to penetrate further and deeper into ‘tangible spaces’, thanks to the bright colours, video constructions, sounds and paintings that seem to go on for ever. A large ‘planetarium’ dominates the central area of MU as if it were half a disco ball or a head. It is surrounded by smaller satellites, each offering its own spatial experiences. Ben Wolf will mainly contribute light and shadow installations.
Maya Hayuk is represented by gallery A.L.I.C.E. of Brussels and Cinders Gallery of Brooklyn.