Haim Steinbach

Born in 1944 in Rehovot (Israel), he lives and works in New York

Close your eyes, 2003
Matte black vinyl lettering, variable dimensions

MAMCO Collection, Geneva
Work acquired thanks to the Association des Amis du MAMCO, Philippe Bertherat,
an anonymous donor and the Mirabaud bank

Since the mid-1970s, Haim Steinbach has been interested in the difference between seeing and looking, between discerning and understanding. He is known for his assemblages of everyday objects collected and exhibited on shelves, legacy works by Marcel Duchamp, that question how context influences our perception of an object or situation, and gives it new meanings and identities. Following a similar logic, Haim Steinbach also collected pieces of text, statement objects that he later transferred to a sheet or a wall in their original typographies. By taking them out of their contexts and projecting them into the museum environment, the sentences he selects reprogram our use and understanding of language. A phrase like „Close your eyes,” used on many occasions (to prepare for a surprise, to protect ourselves from a sight that we prefer to avoid, or to relax or fall asleep) here takes on importance through unusual lettering. The injunction, whether read as an imperative order or as the statement of a rule of a game, may also seem absurd in an exhibition space where the entire aim should be to observe works. By just closing their eyes, the visitor is fittingly invited to “see” differently. By appealing to other senses than sight, visitors enter a world full of possibilities. In ‘The Unknown Lake’, and facing the lake by the bay window, the work acts as an instrument of transition and invites us to an intimate search: to leave the external landscape in order to look and see the landscape sunken in each of us.

Haim Steinbach, Close your eyes, 2003 Exhibition view, Haim Steinbach, Who’s there?, Galerie Laurent Godin, 2022 – Photo © Galerie Laurent Godin Courtesy of MAMCO, Genève