Moving Targets Moving Solutions
by James Mann, LVAM Curator
Review of Gloria Kisch's 2000 Exhibition
If there is a logic to Gloria Kisch's recent development as a sculptor, it is that in her new work, she has moved completely away from mass and plane, into producing sculptoral form so attenuated as to resemble mere lines drawn in the air. Yet there is a perceptual duality to this work that is profound, and in the visual arts, indeed in all the arts, perceptual originality is more important than philosophical. A majority of the present works belong to what Kisch calls her Octopus Series. They are freestanding , and their multiple armatures do suggest many-limbed creatures. But by entitling these particular pieces octopi, the artist implicitly suggests that they may be plausibly imagined by the perceiver as floating suspended in water, rather than as standing upon terra firma. In these new works, Kisch has essentially freed sculpture from volumetric and planar solidity, as did Alexander Calder with his wire figures, both of these sculptors thus innovating a sort of graphic art realized in air and space.
But Kisch here also encourages us, first, to think of the air we are looking at these sculptures through as being water instead, and further, to consider the surface of the earth as a mere geometric plane, which in this context is an arbitrary interruption of the upright octopi's proper realm, the undifferentiated depths of the sea. The metaphorical, sensorial properties invested by the artist in these works are radical perceptions, and must be counted as a breakthrough whose potential applications open up new territory for three-dimensional art. And it is Kisch who is here the first to show us what some of those potential new properties are. What earth, air, and water as effective, imaginary stand-ins for each other in the viewer's apprehension of those sculptures, Kisch's art directs one to look at transubstantiation as an elemental condition, and at transfiguration as simultaneously both the essential and the highest achievement of art.
Other new Kisch works, hanging pieces which are called by the artist either wind chimes or bells, objectify a spiritual resistance to the bonds of earth, the eventual resting place of all avoirdupois that lacks the uplight and liberating energy of life. She would have these inanimate, aerial suspensions be rung either by the human hand and arm, or by the winds of the earth that are driven by the corona and core fire of the sun. She would have sound stirred from this cold steel by the earth by the breath of the universe. Kisch would thus have the transfiguration of cold dark matter by sensory perception, into a fundamental accompaniment of sentient life, be for the present her own, ultimate, artistic challenge and conquest.