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:
A dark bronze sculpture of a duck lazes alongside a pot of blossoming white flowers at the bottom of a stone fountain that spirals up behind it like an asymmetrical model of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in ruins. Slowly a waterfall winds down and around from the fountainhead’s craggy summit, circumnavigating once its five-tiered form and gathering in a shallow walled pool on the opposite side to the waterfowl — which is abstract in its form and much larger than an ordinary duck, around two-thirds as tall as a person. Sitting on its arse with its feet splayed in front of it, as a person would, rather than on its tummy with its feet tucked underneath as a duck would, it has a rather bemused air.
Now, the shadowy ornamental fountain rotates and rises out of a small patch of cobblestoned ground, an island of old Gstaad preserved amongst the modern grid of paving slabs that surround it. The cobblestones and village duck-pond are of the old world, the paving slabs and minimal metal duck of the new. Whilst the falling waterway is complicated with dramatic overhangs, twists and mezzanines, the waterfowl is completely smoothed out. Its undulating metal form is minimal (the wings have been dispensed with entirely) and sensuous as a modern artwork, sitting somewhere between Constantin Brancusi’s Bird In Space and an ordinary bird. Slumped curvedly upon the rough and haphazard muddle of the past, its presence highlights the many layers of architectural time that intermingle around us offering links to the past.