For his contribution to Project 1049, artist Paul Kneale has engaged with the notion of the commissioned object: with a focus on the public sculptures of Gstaad, he asked art writers to produce critiques of particular in situ works, which were then used — via an online platform — to commission new illustrations based on these descriptions. The resultant drawings have been turned back into physical objects, a series of 3D modelled sculptures made of polystyrene and resin, which have been installed near their original versions: a mise-en-abîme of aesthetic interpretation repeated back to itself across genre and discipline.
Below, it is possible to read the anonymous critic’s text that inspired the commissioned drawing:
The Russian photographer Boris Mikhailov once quipped that it was essential for people to keep taking pictures of sunsets. Essentially imploring them to not become jaded or immune to the magnificent beauty in the everyday, and to persist with their special relationship to it. Perhaps for a sculptor the same ignorance of cliche could be encouraged in regards to subjects such as the kiss.
Rather than nature’s ecstatic display of the sun’s disappearance below the horizon, the subject of the human embrace is at the pivot point of the will. The moment bodies and minds begin the negotiation which ends in their dissolution into each other. The threshold of self. These figures here express such a physical integration, outstretched arms literally melding to form a circuit, a continuity of bodies subject to the act.
The artist has chosen a radically simplified style that does not at once reduce to its materials: the remoteness of patina’d bronze in contrast to the organic form. It recalls the exercises of reduction germane to the early 20th century exploration of representational form, but without an overt agenda to subsume these forms back into the figure/ground binary. Perhaps what we could surmise then is precisely our fallen state with regards to such concerns: a return to the social that carries with it these lessons in representation. It is significant then that the figures in this embrace are distinctly non-gendered. We recognise their bodies as human, but without explicit representation of genitalia. The embrace itself, the moment of ego dissolution, does not presuppose the socially assigned construct of gender. Rather it equates passion as a force unto itself. A logic and motive that speaks to a beautiful though not-yet realised now.