Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Introduction

Academic journal article Mosaic (Winnipeg)

Introduction

Article excerpt

In "Falling Beauty," Giorgio Agamben notes of Cy Twombly's sculpture Untitled, dated from Gaeta in 1984, that it bears the English translation of some lines from Rilke, inscribed on a scroll on its base--not just any lines, but the four verses concluding the Tenth Elegy, and thus the entire cycle of the Duino Elegies. It is the proximity between the movement in these verses and in Twombly's sculpture that fascinates Agamben. For both--verse and sculpture--the movement, Agamben suggests, is a "falling directly downwards," giving form to what Holderlin, translating Sophocles, called the caesura, an "anti-rhythmic suspension" that shatters and breaks a work's upward trajectory. Such is Twombly's gesture in his extreme sculptures, Agamben proposes, "in which every ascent is reversed and suspended, almost a threshold or caesura between an action and a non-action: Falling beauty" (13-15).

Might this be the same anti-teleological movement--"falling beauty"--of Walter Moroder's haunting sculptures? Isolated, solitary, lonely, often female, wholly anonymous, human figures, more crypts than bodies: these sculptures give the lie to Hegel's transcendentalizing in his Aesthetics of the upright human form (see Muller, Walter Moroder: Skulpturen). Moroder's sculptures are reminiscent of the tradition of carving of South Tyrol, yes, perhaps also of art forms found in ancient Egypt, but in another sense, we do not know where these sculptures come from. Perhaps, as Alphonso Lingis puts it in his essay in this issue, in a discussion of the work of Antony Gormley, they are explorations in "inner space," the caesura they occasion not unrelated to the tension between these arrested, almost suspended, human figures and, to borrow Lingis's words, the "inner space of their bodies." Does "falling beauty" allow us to see what sculpture in the service of metaphysics has for centuries resolutely denied, what Jacques Derrida in Glas calls idealism's remains?

I can read this suggestion in Lingis's essay on Antony Gormley's work, for instance the plaster casts he made over twenty-five years of his own, always immobile, body: standing hands at his sides and feet together, lying on the floor, or crouched in a fetal position. These sculptures, Lingis says, would not "exhibit dignity and authority like statues since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, or make narrative gestures and show heroic deeds like the statues that populate our public buildings and parks. …

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