‘Concentrate: Pistoletto’s Infinity Cube’, 2017

'Concentrated: Pistoletto's Infinity Cube', 2017
Dimensions: 2.6cm³ (infinity cube), 20cm x 20cm x 80cm (concrete plinth)
Materials: mirrors, orthodontic elastic bands, concrete

In 2016, my sculptural language started to become bent out of shape. Striving to build a monumental mountain, assembled using ill-fitting items, became the tipping point.

While engorged by my un-mountain; ‘Gorge, 2016‘ as it collapsed and concertina around me, while pausing, exhausted from my struggle to compromise, I began to acknowledge this impossible performance was less about conquering a monumental mountain but was about working through the process of learning how to give and take.

A little later, in 2016, I was fortunate to witness one of Pistoletto’s series of infinity cubes, which was included in ‘John Latham’s: A Lesson in Sculpture’, exhibited at The Henry Moore Institute, in Leeds. Face to face with Pistoletto’s ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’, I witnessed a ‘Ta Da’ moment.

Pistoletto’s ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’, (120 x 120 x 120 cm) harbours an unseen, metre³, interior chamber, which speaks volume. Constructed with minimal intervention, formed using two materials; mirrors and rope, and one profoundly enigmatic act; six mirrored surfaces positioned to face inwards, in which, infinity is harnessed.

Though this limitless space only comes to mind if the material association is made by the viewer and the infinite space is imagined, Pistoletto’s chamber remains infinite, with or without the viewer knowing the interior space knows no bounds.

Back in 1967, Gemano Celant defined Italian Arte Povera [1] as a time when ‘iconographic conventions’ were ‘collapsing’ and ‘symbolic and conventional languages’ were ‘crumbling’ [2]. Possibly the last or one of the last 20th century art movements, upon witnessing ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’, what spoke to my sculptural predicament, came in the form of an echo, which reverberated beyond all measurable dimensions. The significance of Pistoletto’s working process / work-in-progress, transcended time and space, since ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’; loosely constructed by string, lends itself to being undone, thus, breaking the spell of the unseen force that Pistoletto has conjured.

Unlike phenomena, which are displayed to the human senses and/or perception, in Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, from 1781, he defines ‘noumena’ as objects of inquiry that require the act of thought. Could Pistoletto’s ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’ be considered a noumenon, or perhaps, somewhere between a phenomenon and a noumenon?

Beyond the boundary of what can be seen (the real) from the concealed infinite chamber that we can not see (the virtual), to comprehend what is not shown from what is shown, physical and mental forms of dexterity are to be flexed. By entwining manual and intellectual forms of labour, Pistoletto’s ‘Metrocubo d’infinito’ is a form of egalitarianism, which requires imagination, to engage with the notion of breaking-down hierarchical value systems.

When invited to exhibit in a group show, titled ‘Punctuated³‘, in 2017, I thought I had drawn the short straw when allocated the smallest space, with a mere 2.6cm³ dimensions. Though my humble reinterpretation of Pistoletto’s metre infinity cube had to be concentrated to meet the constraints of my exhibition space, though miniature in comparison, ‘Concentrate’, 2017, harnessed an equally infinite interior.

Replacing Pistoletto’s use of rope, with orthodontic bands, which degrade over time, it took approximately 4 years for the orthodontic bands to breakdown, perhaps breaking the works spell and breaking-down the material value of the work.

[1] Museum of Modern Art (MOMA): New York City. (n.d.) Arte Povera. Retrieved from: https://www.moma.org/collection/terms/arte-povera. Source cited: 20th August, 2022

A movement of young Italian artists who attempted to create a new sculptural language through the use of humble, everyday materials. Meaning “poor art,” the term was introduced in 1967 by Italian art critic and curator Germano Celant to describe the work by these artists. In them, Celant found a shared revolutionary spirit inextricably linked to the increasingly radical political atmosphere in Italy at the time. By using non-precious and impermanent materials such as soil, rags, and twigs, Arte Povera artists sought to challenge and disrupt the commercialization of art.

[2] Extract from the text originally published in the exhibition catalogue Galleria La Bertesca: Genoa. (1967) Arte povera – Im Spazio, in Germano, Celant et al. (2000) Arte povera in collezione (Arte povera in collection), Milano: Charta, pp. 27-28