Monday, July 16, 2007

Richard Serra's "Sculpture: Forty Years"

One can say that Band obliterates the distinction between inside and outside, that Torqued Torus Inversion does so for up and down, and that Sequence does the same for start and end. One can say those things, and other stuff, and completely fails to capture the experience of entering into these works. For these works require your participation, a requirement that is, as Patrick McCaughey in TLS puts it, "more demand than invitation."

It is disorienting, threatening, awe-inspiring to travel along the walls and corridor of these torqued works. Their weathered steel walls, slanted and curved, remind me of mountainsides sliding precipitously towards me, or of cliffsides hanging over me. The narrow, slanting portals are like the mountain entrance to Petra in the pictures I have seen, but they open out, not to anything habitable or human, but to canting chambers of space.

Traveling inside the works, I long to understand their overall shape but the experience confounds that understanding. The MoMA pictures, from an elevated perspective, show the shapes of these works, but my advice is to view those photos only after you have walked into and through these works.

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