Thursday, August 23, 2012

Exposure: Antony Gormley's Crouching Man

There's this fantastic wave of land art I've been noticing recently that, with varying levels of subtlety, addresses climate change. Like so many of my favorite artworks, these pieces are very beautiful and very scary. Nele Azevedo's Minimum Monument project (better known as "the Melting Men"), which I posted about a few months ago, is just one of many such works.

Antony Gormley's 60-ton, 85-foot-tall Exposure sculpture is another. It takes the skeleton shape of a man as he crouches on a bit of jutting land in central Netherlands, surrounded on three sides by the sea. The sculpture's form is that of Gormley himself, taken as a cast and then digitized into a geometric framework by computers.

"The work cannot have a plinth," Gormley states. "Over time, should the rising of the sea level mean that there has to be a rising of the dike, this means that there should be a progressive burying of the work."

Time and the progression of global warming (massive, universal forces), then, will act upon the figure. But so does the movement of the individual. As the viewer gets closer to the sculpture, Gormley explains, "The nature of the object changes. You can see it as a human form in the distance. It becomes more abstract the closer you get to it. And finally it becomes a chaotic frame through which you can look at the sky." To make sense of the work, a change in perspective becomes necessary.

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