Model by Antony Gormley, White Cube Bermondsey, London
Tuesday 27 November 2012
A strew of very spare and rather robotic looking body forms, constructed from iron blocks, make their presences felt, tentatively, up the main corridor of White Cube, Bermondsey, and in a gallery off to the right.
No, the ones off to the right are more blockish, more pugnaciously substantial. One entire gallery is devoted to maquettes and drawings of various projects, including one for Model, which is on display in the large South Gallery.
Model, created from large sheets of Corten steel, is what we are here to see. It is a gallery-engulfing, pared down body of sorts, laid out on the ground. It is also a building, a series of conjoined stacked boxes.
We can walk through it, entering by the bottom of what is described as its left foot (there is no right foot). Gormley regards this piece as the culmination of decades of work, some kind of summary of all that he has been trying to say and do about the relationship between sculpture, architecture and the human form.
He does not want us to regard it as a spectacle because that word suggests a superficial response. As we enter, we think of Miroslaw Balka's giant ship's container in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern or of Richard Serra's giant Corten steel sculptures, which were also immersive, enveloping, walk-through experiences.
There is nothing new about the idea of a building roughly mimicking the shape of the human body, of course. Is that not what Christian churches have done down the centuries, with the columnar body of the nave giving onto spread-arm-like transepts and dome-headed ambulatories?
That sounds a little crude. Gormley's walk-through experience is not so predictable as that. We walk, tentatively, down maze-like corridors, making sudden turns to the left or right. From time to time, light splashes down from the gallery's ceiling above our heads.
The walk is interesting, but never really arresting. It lacks the entrapping unpredictability of Serra, or that feeling we had in Balka's container that we were being cast adrift, and that we would not be able to find our way home. We experience a slight frisson of something when our feet boom on the floor of Corten steel.
Occasionally, when the ceiling lowers, we nearly crack our heads. We nearly experience pain. But not quite. We think of the pyramids, of tombs in lightless spaces. We have entered this space hoping for a visceral response of some kind, but it never quite happens.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove