Daniel Steegmann Mangrané does not believe in the autonomy of art. Taking a sensorial, phenomenological, and collaborative approach to sculpture (as well as to film, sound, augmented reality, gardens, and drawing), he views art-making as primarily about experimentation, potential relations, and new alliances, a chance for discovery in which process is more important than the finished object. His spare, yet sensual works reveal the complex interdependencies connecting the natural world and human action, focusing on mutual agency and the migration of forms across nature, art, and architecture. Seeking dynamic relations rather than fixed objects and subjects, he draws out correspondences and undermines boundaries between organic and manmade geometries and materials, as well as between chance and rule-based principles of composition. The environment of Brazil, where the Spanish-born artist has lived since 2004—particularly the enmeshed life of the rainforest—has had a deep impact on his practice and thinking. Steegmann Mangrané calls it a place where he can always be in direct contact with the world’s most pressing concerns, whether ecological, political, or social.
Robert Preece: Your survey exhibition, “A Leaf Shapes the Eye,” which debuted at the Museum for Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki and is now on view at MACBA in Barcelona, covers 25 years of work. What is the title about, and how does the show reflect your primary themes and concerns?
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané: The idea behind the title is very simple, but also very dear to me. It is commonly accepted that the observer changes the observed—that’s Heisenberg’s principle in quantum physics. But what science seems to forget is that just as the scientist is changing the particle by observing it, the particle is also modifying the scientist. Art has an important role in pointing this out. . .
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