What does it mean to own an artwork that will never look the same from one month to the next? And how does an ever-changing, living sculpture tweak our preconceptions of what it means to conserve an artwork for posterity?
Posts tagged ‘Nocturne of the Limax maximus’
When Hermes and Aphrodite had a son, Hermaphroditus, who was fused with a nymph, Salmacis, the resulting person possessed the physical traits of both male and female—hence the term “hermaphrodite,” used in biology as a description of similarly dual reproductive traits in both plants and animals.
MoMA’s lobby is a site of perpetual flux and frenzy, a public passageway for people to meet, greet, rest, or chat before embarking on their next experience, either inside or outside the Museum’s walls. When asked by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, to think of forms that would visually complement and invigorate the rectangular and column-filled lobby space, Paula Hayes, a New York-based sculptor and landscape designer, who enjoys “knocking something off kilter a bit,” was ready to take up the challenge.
Joseph Paxton (1803–1865, head gardener at Chatsworth House, the Duke of Devonshire’s large country estate in Derbyshire, England, was also the creator of the prefabricated cast-iron-and-glass Crystal Palace, which was originally erected in London’s Hyde Park to contain the Great Exhibition of 1851, a showcase of the technological wonders of the industrial revolution.
Working with glassblowers is an interesting process for me because there are technical drawings that communicate the eventual use of the vessel (what size, where is the opening, what are the relationships of the opening to volume in general, aesthetic ideals, etc.), and then there is, for me, a gestural kind of communication—a type of mime: I draw the shape with my entire body through gesture while standing with the glassblower.
Getting my initial epiphany of forms for Nocturne of the Limax maximus, which will be installed in MoMA’s lobby on November 17, into its physical manifestation was a multilayered process, with each step leading to the next—and in strange ways going backward at times to maximize the potential of the previous step’s efficiency and interconnectedness with the subsequent steps of production.
A little over a year and a half ago, Ann Temkin, MoMA’s Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, asked me to consider an “intervention” in MoMA’s Fifty-third Street lobby. Of course I was very excited, knowing that no work of ambitious scale had been installed in this very populated, chaotically inhabited area of the Museum, with only a few indications of the etiquette of how to be in the space—information here, tickets there, some moving image screen projects that can be indicative of information regarding the interior exhibitions. Doors revolving, air and environmental aspects of the outdoors spilling in with the visitors. Perfect!
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