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Forest of steles

Wilson, Keith (2007) Forest of steles. In: Memorial to the Iraq War, 23 May - 27 Jun 2007, ICA, London.

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Abstract

Five coloured totemic sculptural works (up to 4 meters high). Exhibited in a variety of locations, the steles act as standing stones with no instructional message or commemorative edict, allowing for interpretative flexibility. The Steles engage with the contemporary subject of sculpture, whilst simultaneously testing the limits of the social use of objects. ‘Steles’ began with standard metal bars, which were forged, rolled and then rendered in giant form with a PU elastomer coating. The simple forging processes applied pressure to the hot steel, producing an asymmetrical squeezed effect as well as extruded ‘ears’ at the top, where the original bar corners were. The edges, where the organic and the man-made collide, echo calligraphic standing stones – hence ‘stele’. Whilst the original steles were produced by carving flat faces across rocks, Wilson’s forging processes produce a bulge which effects a similar meeting of face and edge. The literal squeeze is reintroduced in Wilson’s larger pieces with a bevelled zotefoam edge, the overspilling sandwich-filling between two plate steel faces. The elastomer coating is flexible enough for this squeeze to be still in evidence in the final work, an intimate and surprising point of contact for anyone brave enough to touch. There is a precise reversal of the normal hierarchical relation between macquette and final work here – the smaller version in this instance being the ‘truer’ one. The finished forms are worked up in a factory which usually produces shipping buoys, making for a high visibility object, densely pigmented, saturated with colour. This process also places the work in conversation with New Generation sculptors of the sixties, especially with the painted steel works that appeared to promise to be forever freshly painted, forever new. The twist here is that eventually these stele works will lose their gloss, the pigment will fade and the surface will pit – it will be as if they gradually turn to stone.

Item Type:Show/Exhibition
Additional Information:'Memorial to the Iraq War', ICA, London. (Group show – 25 international artists – with five artists, including Wilson, commissioned by the ICA to realise major pieces for this show). Subsequently exhibited at Roche Court, Salisbury.
Research Community:University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design, School of
ID Code:4795
Deposited On:07 May 2008 14:17
Last Modified:15 Sep 2008 11:34

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