Posted by: glue | August 1, 2009

Nunc Fluens

Paola introduced me to Antony Gormley one lunchtime, at a picnic table outside the Allalin Hotel in Saas-Fee (June, 2004).  She recommended mystory to him, which he invited me to explain.  I asked him if his own creative experience confirmed the principles and he immediately responded affirmatively and proceeded to tell me his own Family anecdote, that he recognizes as evoking the core experience of his imagination, similar to the examples I gave him of Einstein’s compass or Gehry’s fish.

Choral Metaphor

Choral Metaphor

After lunch every day, Gormley’s mother made him nap for a half hour.  He laid in the darkened room, eyes shut.  Behind his eyes a black space emerged the size of a closed matchbox.  Soon the black shape expanded until it enveloped everything everywhere.



That evening Gormley lectured, showing slides and commenting on his sculpture.  His aesthetic epiphany happened in 1977, in Ireland.  He brought home a boulder from the ocean without knowing why he needed it.  Some time later he encased the boulder in a lead skin, shaped with a mallet.  He removed the skin, which (reassembled) held exactly the shape of the stone.  Three elements in the recipe: the stone, the water (where it was found; lead behaves as a liquid), the void.

The Nap

The Nap

His intent he said (according to my notes) is to bear witness to the feeling of being human, focusing on a certain imaginative space that is only good for dreaming.  His art materializes a space behind appearances.  One may look into black void inside the lead body shapes through the openings (the holes, the orifices of a human body).  The body is our material reality.  What is this place we inhabit, the special darkness of the body whose actions in the world somehow escape us?



The body is the dark place of potential.  Lead is a bit of night inserted into daylight.  Mass in space.  A memory of a specific body offered to others.  How might an image of wide scope emerge from this career?  It would begin with a Popcycle, correlating the following institutions:  Family (the nap memory); Church (raised Catholic, fallen away as adult); History (the site of the Norman crypt); Career (the history of alchemy, Paracelsus).  In terms of chora as measure:  the black (lead) matchbox-shaped space, infinitely expandable.


  1. […] Detailed accounts by Greg Ulmer: * Frank Gehry: “fish” Albert Einstein: “compass” Antony Gormley: “rectangle“ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: