Nina Canell's artistic practice does not revolve around the finished artwork; instead, it foregrounds process and synergy. This artist's book/catalogue is based on an experiential installation that considers the material vitality of calcite.
Literally crumbling under our own weight, several metric tonnes of shells speak up from the ground, causing a sensation remote from that of walking on a gallery floor. Yet, crushed calcite from marine molluscs is an essential ingredient in concrete, a major constituent of our built environment. In Muscle Memory, a sculpture by Nina Canell, the biomineral forms that feed the construction industry gradually break down over the course of the exhibition. Material stress gives way to a sounding, durational sculpture, inviting us to consider the ineffable number of broken bodies that holds us up. Shell Reader calls on the material vitality of calcium carbonate, detailing broken pieces of shell from Muscle Memory. By foregrounding these fragments, each page echoes a crack, snap, split, or splinter. The publication includes an essay by writer Sally O'Reilly and a conversation between Canell and historian of science Giulia Rispoli.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition "Nina Canell: Tectonic Tender" at Berlinische Galerie – Museum of Modern Art in 2022.
Born 1979 in Växjö (Sweden), Nina Canell lives and works in Berlin. Her installations give concrete expression to the lightness and intangibility of the everyday. The natural materials she presents—water, stone, air, earth, wood, copper—are traversed by electric arcs and heat sources, giving rise to delicate, ephemeral physical reactions that reveal and underscore our innate relationship with our immediate environment. Her work has recently been shown at the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Camden Arts Centre (London), the Sydney Biennial, at MoMA and the Swiss Institute (New York), and at the 13th Lyon Biennale.