What is Sculpture? | project reference and notes

‘You must change your life’ was the injunction that the Greek torso issued to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. A torso without a head.
The head – of the Greek God Apollo, severed from its body and lying on one side – is seen elsewhere, held between the hands of a blind man in Jusepe de Ribera’s painting, In Sense of Touch. 
The painting was made in Naples in 1652. The poem composed in Paris and first published in 1918.
Rilke would live in Paris for twelve years, and in 1902 he became the friend, and for a time the secretary, of the sculptor Auguste Rodin. His writing during this time (1907-1908) was not about his own abstract ideas and moods, but instead about actual things outside of himself, a type of poetry he referred to as Dinggedichte (thing poems) – for example, an encounter with a panther in a zoo enclosure; children on a merry-go-round; the broken sculpture of a male figure in the Louvre Museum. The poem, ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’, is ekphrastic – a vivid description of a visual work of art, in this case, a statue without a head, without arms or legs, without genitals – and it asks us to consider why the poet ‘sees it’ as more real, in this, its damaged condition.
Both the photograph of the statue in the Louvre’s collection, and Rilke’s poem, are ‘documents’. And this ‘document’ – in addition to studying the subject of sculpture – is the other subject of this, the second project.

(from ‘What is Sculpture?’ The second of three first semester Fine Art studio projects; General Foundation in Art & Design, DJCAD, University of Dundee.)

 







Untitled|four eighteen – The silence of a plane going through a fir tree contains everything within itself.

‘If I look at a cup I can name it, I can describe its design. I may be able to guess its value or describe its particular use. This is the everyday shorthand by which I orientate myself and make sense of the world around me.’


‘… In another vein of thought I may look at a cup and think of breakfast – a kind of first order association by which I logically connect a cup with a process or event of which a cup is a part.’


‘The most beautiful part / of your body is wherever / your mother’s shadow falls.’ (O.V.)

A wavy line of geese on the cool surface of the sky, like drops of water on black.
Donald Judd Writings (Judd Foundation & David Zwirner Books 2016)
Frost light on the slates of the helpless barn.
One day the patterned rug will go on without.

‘ … Things.
When I say that word (do you hear?), there is a silence; the silence which surrounds things. All movement subsides and becomes contour, and out of past and future time something permanent is formed: space, the great calm of objects which know no urge.’ (R.M.R.)

That life, perhaps, is no more than preparation for the hour suddenly stilled.
Talking to myself … the cherry tree’s going to blossom soon …

‘… Lastly I may look and see mainly a white curving shape. It might remind me of a bath or a seagull. I suspend my habits of vision – I let the object settle in my mind as an object and allow images to well up around it.’


It Never Touches The Ground | I left a cup under our sky / overnight to measure how much / it rained in my dream, with you.

The cup shifted on its saucer – by the nothingness of a bird – helpless.
Perfect day – Scotland, rain, ozone.

Untitled|nine, ten & eleven seventeen: Little Religion

The posts are made of clay. This post is sleeping under some cloth a section of the true cross this post is sleeping in the shade under the leaves of a great rose tree that casts shadows onto the cloth and ornaments it like a threadbare icon with shadows of anxiety; over the smell of clay autumn clouds pour east.

(Arnold Böcklin| ‘Die Toteninsel’ (Isle of the Dead). Sergei Rachmaninov composed a Symphonic Poem Op. 29 after the fourth version of this painting by the Swiss Symbolist artist. This painting was made on copper plate and was lost during an allied bombing raid in WWII – only a black and white photograph of it exists and it was this in particular not the original ‘coloured’ painting that inspired Rachmaninov’s work.

I was in Carrbridge recently; celebrating a marriage. I took a room in the Carrbridge hotel and – as I always do in hotels – I opened and closed the wardrobe doors and pulled open all the drawers of all the other pieces of furniture in the room| Room 147. It was in the bed-side drawer that I found the Gideon Bible with its torn chapters of Genesis.)