GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN:
TOWARDS A NEW MONUMENTALISM
For the past two months I have been immersed in a sculpture residency in Verbier, Switzerland. It has been an exciting opportunity that is documented on a blog I initiated for the experience:http://andymoerleinverbier3d.blogspot.com and my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1613273828
For five weeks, (May 21 – June 25, 2011) a roster of emerging and critically acclaimed Swiss, British and New York-based artists were invited to create a museum without walls.
Sculpture Park Featured Artists 2011
Gregory Coates (New York, NY), Donna Dodson (Boston, MA), Musa Hixson (Brooklyn, NY), Timothy Holmes (London, UK), Edouard Faro (Swiss), Etienne Krähenbühl (Swiss), Andy Moerlein (Bow, NH), Zak Ove (London, UK), Josette Taramarcaz (Swiss), Kiki Thompson (Verbier, CH), André Raboud (Swiss), Will Ryman (New York, NY)
Using the views of the mountains from the track where the sculpture park is
located as a creative departure point, the artists were free to interpret the site-specificity of their work. Following are some open-ended questions set by Paul Goodwin, curator to Tate Britain, to challenge the participating artists:
How can artists (and art practice) convey and/or respond to the challenge of
environmental sustainability in such extreme conditions?
Are the grand narratives of monumentalism, triumph over adversity and
conquest of nature still relevant in age of global conflict and potential
Is monumental sculpture an appropriate method or scale to engage diverse
What is the relationship of man to mountain, art to environmentalism?
How can a sculpture park articulate the historical and the contemporary within
a framework that addresses current issues of relevance to local mountain
communities as well as global environmental politics?
The sculptures created in Verbier, will be exhibited 12 months, braving the four seasons at a high altitude of 2100 meters (6,800 feet). The Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park is free to the public and only accessible by foot, bike, skis or dogsled.
My reply to the challenge was to create two major permanent pieces, a temporary work for the opening of he sculpture park and several interventions I have titled PLACEMENTS.
steel armature, cement
5 meters long x 3 deep x 3.5 high
When a tree is wind beaten to the extremes of uprooting, it is a trauma that leaves a scar beyond the individual that is toppled. When a forest titan is blown over and the earth is torn by the tenacity of roots, even boulders can be hoisted aloft. These excavated stones leave an impression, the uplifted roots draw a shape, the remnant hollow becomes a shelter.
Man has marked this earth deeply. We are well rooted.
I am unsure how as an artist, I can respond to the extremes of the Alps. My work is not a triumph over adversity. It is a personal story. I am recording my presence. In the fragile state of today's world I am determined to draw with a mark that lasts. In this Residency I aim to leave a significant trace.
UPENDED (a ghost print) 2011
steel & handmade stones
5 meters long x 3 deep x 3.5 high
When a printmaker places a second damp page on the plate without pausing to re-ink, a ghost print is produced. UPENDED is a retelling of UPROOTED. Like a ghost print, much of the mass is gone. The impression is skeletal, but structure is evident. In a second pressing, only the deepest image remains.
UPENDED works well in all seasons but was designed for the brilliance of the mountain terrain. Fog and clouds isolate the linear design and suspend the stones in vapor. Sun on snow creates a stark shadow reflection. The image will be doubled, compressed, stretched as the sun angle changes throughout the day.
The steel rod has been bent and shaped into layers that lack geometry but that evoke volume - much as a brush patch occupies a distinct physical space with abundant disorder.
silver painted saplings & handmade stone
1.5 meters long x 1.5 deep x 4 high
POSTSCRIPT is an homage to Chinese artist Zhan Wang whose reinterpretations of ancient philosopher stone relics as stainless steel present tense events has me intrigued. It is also a bit of a nod to Roxy Paine.
The PLACEMENTS are a past/present tense unknown participant based performance event. The discovery of these stones is unpredictable and unknown to me as the artist. They are a gift to Verbier. The discoverers who find these work may or may not derive a complete understanding of their material and PLACEMENT. These events are inspired by the writings of Robert Smithson.
PLACEMENT # 1
PLACEMENT # 3
PLACEMENT # 5
PLACEMENT # 7