The Sculpture Question – t/w-alking about and around

Last weekend I attended the first day of a two-day conference called The Sculpture Question that is rounding off Folkestone Triennial and a  series of discussions initiated by UCA’s The Sculpture Question research cluster. The speakers included Penelope Curtis (Director of Tate Britain), Anna Moszynska (art historian and author of Sculpture Now), Emma Hart (artist with work in the triennial), and Jon Wood (Research Curator at the Henry Moore Institute and co-editor of Modern Sculpture Reader). The first part of the conference was very much about discussing terms relating to sculpture, both from the more subjective points of view of the artists and from art-historical and pedagogic standpoints…

What seemed to particularly stand out, both in this terms section and the day as a whole, was the sense of asking but of course not being able to identify/define what ‘the sculpture question’ (or simply ‘sculpture’) actually is…and so instead discussing around it. This inability to pin down and be specific that gives rise to a purely speculatory, drifting approach for me is such an important trait within contemporary practice as a whole. More thoughts on this soon…

Emma Hart, whose work I’ve loved for a long time and very much relate to in my own practice, was for me the most interesting and compelling speaker. I felt she got far more straight to the point by taking a purely descriptive rather than prescriptive approach – immersively describing her work and its unsettled, somewhat lairy qualities as a way to enter the discussion of sculpture. Emma’s work is based around a daily feeling of anxiety and struggle to articulate, make public and keep up with things. I wouldn’t say that I feel anxious and nervous in the way she does but I very much identify with her struggle to deal with articulating and making the private public.

This is often the thing of the practice for me – floating, shifting, struggling to define, the sense of risk and anxiety of externalising private/concealed ideas that in the end is usually a talking around rather than specifically about something…”conceal[ing] and reveal[ing] their precarious inner states”…

emma hart^ Emma Hart, Giving It All That, Folkestone Triennial 2014 ^

These ideas seemed to nicely manifest themselves through another walk around the Triennial…

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