This article is part of the following series: Translating Vitalities
We built a sculpture to physically and visually discuss boundary and immunity. As a conscious act of investigation for two days we instigated a physical boundary. The sculpture was built on a stairway, it is a complex place, it is our main route through the building.
We covered the stair in a fine white talcum powder. At first it was beautiful in its purity, in its untouched status.
As we altered this state of beauty by walking around the building, continuing our activities, the powder changed the area around the stair, creating trails. These became a visual demonstration of how the journey of each person was taken, it became mapped out clearly on the floor. This process made the unconscious conscious.
The powder was beautiful when we controlled it, at the start of the sculptural journey. It lay flat and received the light, it highlighted the architecture of the stair. As the powder was walked upon, it traced the journey of the person who walked upon it, it displayed and gave visual responsibility to all actions, and the powder became a burden. The boundary we created became a burden to all of the participants.
The boundary stopped being crisp and contained neatly on the stair, it spread out and become vague and unleashed. The powder showed clear every journey, it made heavy each journey. Each action/journey became a difficult burden, not a joyous enterprise. The boundary had spread beyond its rightful place. The powder on the stair became a device that caused deviation in previously easy routes: we had to re-think what our actions would be, due to the impact they had on the building and on us as participants. The boundary became worn out; its beauty was in doubt. The investigation showed clearly that boundaries change; that we change with those observations. We have responsibility to the boundary, to watch, to care, to consider the impact of it.
In this time of observation, of dialogue, it was important to be aware of the change, it was important to look to the impact.
Beyond the large dialogue there was the detail. The fragility, the moments of change, the pure beauty in the potential of the boundary to hold its own narrative. To observe the medium is to see the reason. The complexity of the instigation of a boundary is clear. It is present and compelling in the detail, when observing the fine and the fleeting.
Clare Twomey is an artist and a research fellow at the University of Westminster, London, who works with clay in large-scale installations, sculpture, and site-specific works. Over the past 10 years she has exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate, Crafts Council, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto Japan, the Eden Project and the Royal Academy of Arts. In these works Twomey has maintained a concern with materials, craft practice and historic and social context.