Circuit is one of several sculptures Serra has made since the early 1970s that engage the full architectural volumes of their settings. After experimenting early in his career with materials such as lead and graphite, which he was drawn to for their capacity to be manipulated, Serra eventually turned to steel as his medium of choice, selecting it, he has said, for its “tectonic potential, its weight, its compression, its mass, its stasis” and its ability to stand supported by gravity alone.
Serra has had a long-standing interest in trying to “reveal the structure and content and character of a space.” Here equally sized steel plates are positioned upright, eight feet tall, extending diagonally from four corners of a square room. The plates approach but do not quite touch each other at the center. Sharply dividing the room into four triangular quadrants, Circuit belies its title, inhibiting easy circulation. It is impossible to comprehend the configuration of the space delimited by the sculpture from anywhere but at the exact midpoint. Instead, as the artist has described, “all your psychophysical coordinates, your sense of orientation, are called into question immediately.” Viewers are invited to enter the work, to walk into and through it; with each step, the relationship between the body, the sculpture, and the surrounding environment shifts.
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).