Saturday, January 17, 2004

I've been looking at a booklet about Domain Field by Anthony Gormley. This was something between a piece of installation art or sculpture and a piece of performance art. The making of it, using local volunteers who had plaster casts made of their bodies. These casts were then used as spaces within which steel rods were welded together. The finished product looks like a sort of exploded mess that fits within the space of a human body. They are recognisably human shapes, even while they are not straightforward sculptures of human beings. The essay in the booklet I've been reading talks about the relationships that make up a body, and I think that there is something here of this. There is just enough in the apparently randon bits of steel to tell us that this is a human body that is modelled here.

I'm a fan of Gormley's works, but this seems a little disappointing. A bit too sterile. Maybe the combination of the steel and the white gallery space, but he seems to have sucked all the life out of his subjects. It feels a little bit like the 'recipe for a human being' sort of thing, which tells you to take lots of water, a bit of iron and so on. Of course what is missing is life. I think that's missing here too. Gormley is a bit like a little boy who has taken something apart to see what makes it work, only to lose what he is looking for in the process of deconstruction.

But lest this seem too negative, it is good to be able to look at something that does actually have some content beyond thinly veiled ideology or the pursuit of tabloid headlines. Gormley has put together a body of work that is well worth a look. His explorations of what it means to be a body, what it means to be human, continue to challenge and inspire me. For that I am very grateful.

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