I Want to Go There: Crosby Beach, Liverpool

17 03 2009
theage.com

theage.com

This isn’t by any means breaking news, but I randomly came upon this blog post the other day and it inspired a new obsession: Antony Gormley. The British artist is known for his work with the human form, often studying and casting his own body. His “radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation” is (not surprisingly, given my obsession with memory) a fascinating concept to me, and many of his works appear to have a quality that is at once eerily haunting and serenely calming, which makes them all the more appealing.

Take, for example, “Another Place,” a July 2005 exhibition on Crosby Beach, Liverpool that has become a permanent installation there. Here, flanked on one side by industrial Liverpool with its electricity windmills and on the other by a long expanse of empty beach, 100 cast-iron figures stand looking out to sea. The figures, molded from the artist’s own body, are rather ghostly in aspect, and their rusty, corroded facade gives the sense that they may just as easily be some ancient monument as a modern, incredible work of art.

They are spread out along the beach at random intervals, many up to waist deep in water when the tide comes in, and have the odd effect of looking realistcally human or inhumanly alien, depending on the angle and distance of viewing. There is something wistful in the way that they all look out in the same direction at the sea. (All this, of course, only from the photos I’ve seen.)

In an article written back at the installation’s inception, Gormley describes the work as “a whispering communication with forgotten levels of history” as well as “a kind of acupuncture of the landscape, but also acupuncture of people’s dreamworld.” But the even more fascinating aspect of the exhibition (and presumably the reason it’s staying) is that it creates a sort of dialogue between artist and audience: Gormley says, “Each person is making it again… for some it might be about human evolution, for others it will be about death and where we go…I think that’s what’s amazing about in a way the work of now – contemporary art, it’s no longer representing the ideology of a dominant class it’s actually an open space that people can make their own.” Death of the Author indeed.

See the work for yourself with this video about the fight to keep the statues.

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