08/10/2021 – 20/02/2022

Jeremy Shaw. Phase Shifting Index

Kumu Art Museum
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Still image from video: people standing, hands and legs extended
Jeremy Shaw. Phase Shifting Index. 2020. Film still. Courtesy of Jeremy Shaw & the KÖNIG Galerie Berlin, London, Seoul

Location: Great Hall

Jeremy Shaw is one of the most influential and intriguing artists in the contemporary visual culture. A Canadian artist based in Berlin, Shaw is interested in altered states of mind and cultural and scientific practices that seek to map transcendental experiences. The underlying theme in his works is escaping the present. Phase Shifting Index is a recent work that was created for Shaw’s solo exhibition in the Centre Pompidou, Paris in February 2020. The renowned art magazine Frieze named it among the top 10 exhibitions in Europe in 2020.

The culmination of the artwork includes loud sounds and blinking lights.

All videos are in English. A written summary in Estonian and in English is available here, as well as in the exhibition hall.

Phase Shifting Index is an immersive seven-screen video, sound and light installation that takes the visitor to a post-human time in the distant future. Shaw has created seven fictional sub-cultures that express themselves in ecstatic choreographed bodily movements. The dress, style and choreography of the groups suggest found historical footage from the 1960s to the 1990s, recorded on various outmoded media, such as 16mm film and VHS video tape. Separate stories on seven screens unfold in parallel until at the peak of the dramatic action, the subjects of all films join in a synchronised repetitive and cathartic dance. Suddenly, all of the screens rupture in a meltdown of digital visual effects that create an immersive psychedelic art installation in an instant. In Phase Shifting Index, Shaw merges elements from science fiction, documentaries, conceptual art, music video and scientific research to offer a powerful vision of the future.

The exhibition resonates with themes the contemporary art programme of the Kumu Art Museum has systematically brought into focus over several years by looking at the relations between humanity and technology, as well as the role of speculative fiction in the contemporary visual culture. In that way, Phase Shifting Index forms a dialogue with previous exhibitions in Kumu: Ryoji Ikeda’s supersymmetries (2015), Katja Novitskova’s If Only You Could See What I Have Seen with Your Eyes. Stage 2 (2018), and the group exhibition Broken Symmetries (2020). It also connects with the most recent exhibition, Up All Night: Looking Closely at Rave Culture (2021), via the themes of dance, bodily movements and escaping the present.

Jeremy Shaw (1977) works in a variety of media. He has received the most prominent Canadian award for young artists, the Sobey Art Award, and has had solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York; the Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin; and MOCA, Toronto. His works have been featured in international surveys, such as the 57th Venice Biennale and Manifesta 11. Shaw’s works are housed in public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Modern, London; and the Sammlung zeitgenössische Kunst der Bundesrepublik.

Phase Shifting Index was co-produced by the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Swiss Institute, New York; the Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania; and the Frankfurter Kunstverein and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin; with the generous support of the Canada Council of the Arts, Ottawa.


Jeremy Shaw Studio:

Architectural design: Thilo Reich
Sound technician: Titus Maderlechner
Video technician: Kai Müller
Studio manager: Cuno Andréhn Bärtås


Coordinator: Kati Ilves
Graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Technical manager: Aleksander Meresaar
Project manager: Inga Jaagus