January 13, 2020

Peabody Essex Museum’s PEMcast: Episode 14 – Be Here Now

by joeyphoenix

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By Dinah Cardin
via the Peabody Essex Museum

In this episode of the PEMcast, we bring you into the gallery to discover a work created by our visitors. Kimsooja: Archive of Mind asks you to do something very simple: Choose a lump of clay from three earthy colors, roll the clay into a ball and push it toward the center of the table. This immersive experience has been calming frayed nerves since it opened in June. But why is this experience so relaxing?

Join me and my PEMcast co-host Chip Van Dyke as we chat with Kimsooja, the Korean artist behind this meditative work, as well as gallery guides who have welcomed about 40,000 visitors to the installation, so far.

PEM Curator Trevor Smith and artist Kimsooja in the installation
PEM Curator Trevor Smith and PEMcast producer Dinah Cardin chat in Archive of Mind. Photo by Jelivet Perez.
Balls of clay in Kimsooja exhibition
PEM Curator Trevor Smith and artist Kimsooja in the installation. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/ PEM.

We also talk with PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense Trevor Smith, and our resident neuroscientist Dr. Tedi Asher to discover why something so simple can slow us down and prepare us for a better overall museum visit.

Archive of Mind exhibition
Gallery guide Jelivet Perez chats with a visitor. Photo by Ken Sawyer/PEM.

Asher shared some findings on how long the average person looks at a work of art. It’s a matter of seconds. We as a society are flying through museums.

“This idea that you’re at the table and you will be here for a few minutes, it creates opportunities for close looking that I think might prime you for that kind of behavior down the road,” said Asher.

Resident neuroscientist Dr. Tedi Asher in the installation. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM

If you haven’t experienced this North American premiere at PEM, you have until January 20 to calm your spirit and get centered. Come see for yourself how these individual gestures add up to a collective archive of our intentions and wishes.

Wondering what happens to this massive clay pile next year? It will be recycled and donated to nearby Montserrat College of Art and to high school art programs in Haverhill and Lawrence.

blocks of clay in exhibition
Photo by Ken Sawyer/PEM.

To see how visitors are responding and contributing to the exhibition, search #ArchiveofMind on social media.

Visitors rolling clay balls in the exhibition
Photo by Ken Sawyer/ PEM.
Instagram shot of the clay balls

On deck in the Jeffrey P. Beale Gallery, PEM’s new space dedicated to immersive experiences, is artist Carlos Garaicoa. His immersive installation Partitura weaves together street musician performances into a single composition that will envelop and surprise you. It opens in March.

If you missed our last episode, which explores our strategic planning process for moving forward with new director Brian Kennedy, listen to Episode 13: #newPEM. If you have a story idea or comment to share, write to us at pemcast@pem.org.

Find all of the PEMcast episodes on Soundcloud, your podcast app or HERE on PEM’s website.

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