For Great Transformation Marianne Vierø has created a 1:1 representation of the deteriorating remains of Naum Gabo’s Construction in Space: Two Cones. One of the first examples of plastic in sculpture the 1927 artwork belonged to A.E.Gallatin and his Museum of Living Art before formally becoming part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) in the 1950s. Only a few years later the sculpture began showing signs of decay. In 1960 the bonnet of the vitrine that enclosed the sculpture was removed and, due to properties of the unstable plastics, the artwork infamously collapsed. By 1968, after much conservation effort and study, the PMA declared the piece unfit for exhibition. While a Plexiglas study-copy was constructed for internal purposes the original was permanently stored away.
No longer representing its own ideal form, not to mention the artist’s intent, it seems the sculpture, at that moment, stopped existing as a Gabo hovering instead in a state of limbo. However, this uncertainty does not necessarily compromise the potential of the remaining object as an artwork. By falling apart and in that way challenging the limits of its given form the piece alluded to movements of the late 1960s that all helped fracture established norms – from counter-culture to the introduction of Deconstruction. Inspired by the quasi-correlation of events surrounding the disintegration of the Gabo and the introduction of Derrida’s destabilizing notion, one might even think of the sculpture as an unintended model of deconstruction. As such the deterioration of the piece positions it in almost uncanny alignment with developments on the cultural horizon. In its open-ended, indeterminate state, it continues to defy common boundaries of categorization and remains an acute work of art. Adrift from its original set of coordinates it has become an object of an ever-changing present.
Acknowledging the materiality of an artwork as a driving force in creating meaning, Vierø negotiates the potentials of the decay by meticulously representing the piece it in its current deteriorating state. With the aid of various 3D-technologies Vierø’s representation has been digitally modeled and 3D-printed using recently developed plastics. In that way the representation is in itself prone to change – inadvertently, the untested printing materials will warp, bend and crack until eventually they reenact a past event.
Creating a backdrop to the three-dimensional representation a selection of works on paper commemorates the marble plate that used to serve as a base for Gabo’s sculpture. The base was separated from the sculpture before the work entered the collection of the PMA and was apparently used as a cheeseboard in the Gabo household. A written account describes the marble as colored and veined, but the only image showing it is a b/w photograph. To salute the appropriation of the base from art into domestic life, each print combines monotype printing with stone lithography to suggest a possible color scheme for the marble.
A final entry in the show is a vintage catalogue presenting the collection of the Museum of Living Art. Here Gabo is heralded for his experiments with new materials and Construction in Space: Two Cones is represented unaffected by the inherent vice that was to irreversibly transform it.
Marianne Vierø would like to thank the Advanced Media Studio at NYU and the Henry Moore Institute. Special thanks to Taylor Absher. The project is supported by the Mondriaan Fund, the Danish Arts Council and the Danish Art Workshops.
Exhibition: 01/03/14 – 19/04/14
Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
1016 LZ Amsterdam