• Kelly Ewing

Objects in (PHYSICAL) Space

The role of objects in space, whether physical or virtual, is an inherently fundamental part of my practice. Here, I will examine the role of objects acting as an extension of the human body- both in my work and that of Franz West.

In my practice, I use the object to interrupt or subvert a space, whether that is through projection or physical means, each object acts to interrupt the space in which it exists. Often, these object’s act as both an extension of the physical body, and a replacement for it. Large, bodily sculptures float in a space, rotating slowly and pulsating, alongside static sculptures laid on the floor. Each of the works act as an intervention in the space and as a stand in for the physical body.

In Franz’ West’s early sculptural works, the ‘Adaptables / Adaptives’ series, he explored the role of object in relation to the physical body. His works in this series were made to be moved, touched, handled and interacted with. This interaction between the object and the public transformed the viewer into a participant in the performative nature of West’s work.

West encouraged the viewer to engage with these sculptures, also named the ‘Passstücke’, to blur the boundary between art and a bodily, physical experience. The ways in which the viewer interacted with the ‘Passstücke/ Adaptive’ series was entirely their decision, each interaction taking place differently depending on the size and texture of the object, and that of the human being holding, or struggling to hold it.

In his posthumous 2019 exhibition in the Tate Modern; ‘Franz West’, the artist’s ‘Passstücke/ Adaptive’ works were available to be handled and played with in his installation work ‘Passtücke mit Box und Video 1996’. West was quoted to have said about the works, ‘they adapt to viewers as viewers adapt to them’.

This invitation to interact with West’s work particularly interests me as an artist who also deals with the object in space. By allowing the viewer to physically engage with the work, to hold and manoeuvre their bodies around it, West has formed a dialog between the viewer’s body and the object. There is a performative intention to the invitation of engagement with these objects, which are only activated fully through movement and audience interaction. Without this; they’re simply objects in a room, static. The act of physically engaging with West’s work, be it lifting it, touching it, walking with it, walking close beside it or even leaning across it is fundamental to the activation of the object in space.

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