Non-objects

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Sep 29 2013

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Category: Australia, Oceania

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My criticism of the large number of mirror works by Anish Kapoor in last week’s post, doesn’t do him justice sufficiently. He has made other, different works that deserve attention. Nevertheless I start here again with a distorting mirror work. Kapoor has named it a Non-Object, a title that fits many of his works and that can be considered as a good characterization of his oeuvre’s dominant theme. The picture does not show the entire object. We see two sides (in the middle of the photo), necessarily only from one angle, and, moreover, they are cut off at the top and bottom end of the photo. Left and right we see a glimpse of the environment in which the work is placed. I consider this picture as my most satisfactory and pure representation of Kapoor’s distorting mirror works.

“Non-Object (Door)” – the added “(Door)” in the title doesn’t clarify much – dates from 2008. Below I show two photos of works made 15 years earlier: the black cavity (actually deep blue, but in Sydney it looked black) in a white wall with the title “My Body Your Body”, dating from 1993, and the white bulge in a white wall named “When I am Pregnant”, from 1992. Two titles that don’t really appeal to me, of two works for which the title “Non-Object” would have fitted well.

DSC00265b Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art - My Body Your Body 1993, Anish Kapoor - blog column size

My Body Your Body 1993, by Anish Kapoor

DSC00265e Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art - When I am Pregnant 1992, Anish Kapoor -blog column size

When I am Pregnant 1992, by Anish Kapoor

The black cavity absorbs the light so thoroughly that it takes a while, after some walking up and down in front of it, before one realizes that it’s not a flat, black surface, but really a three-dimensional black hole. The white bulge of the other work is as white as the wall itself, with the result that one can only notice it from an angle. When standing right in front, it becomes invisible, and disappears as it were in the white wall.

The “non-object in its environment” that only slowly, and observed from certain angles, reveals itself: this is Kapoor’s profound, predominant theme. An intriguing and interesting theme, about which one can reflect at length. Many of the works only become distinct in combination with their environment. That’s probably why photographs of those works that include this environment – preferably scarcely and subtly – can be illuminating. The human figure in the first picture; the incoming hand with a little bit of black sleeve in the second; and the small white door in the corner of the third, they all help giving relief to the portrayed non-objects by adding a minimum of context. And consequently they stimulate reflection about them in the mind of the spectator. With thanks to Anish Kapoor.

Photo of the week: Stainless steel sculpture (detail) “Non-Object (Door) 2008″ by Anish Kapoor. The 3 sculptures on the 3 photos were part of the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art in 2013.

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