I admire the work and the artist Joseph Beuys ( b.1921; d.1986) and his propaganda. He believed that humanity was trying to eliminate ‘emotions’ and thus eliminate a major source of energy and creativity in every individual. He wrote: “We must seek out and energize our spirituality and link it to our thinking powers so that our vision of the world extends to encompass all the invisible energies with which we have lost contact.” For me, Beuys’ concept is the work I do: encompass invisible energies in my quest to re-consecrate and re-mythologize as much stuff as I can.
This month my cannonballs–rather the paper casts of cannonballs from the 1480 Ottoman invasion–are on exhibit at Atlantic Works Gallery in Boston. Silent. Silence. Silenced. The original cannonballs live in the courtyard of the Aragon Castle of Otranto ,Italy. They weapons are remnants of the 1480 Ottoman Invasion. When I was an artist in residence in Otranto, I was intensely attracted to the weapons, perhaps because my father and all of my uncles had been in the armed service in parts of the world by the sea–Iwo Gima, Siege of Rome, Battle of Dunkirk, the Philipines,
I thought about a lot while casting the cannonballs, including wondering how such huge heavy weapons ( some weighing in at 1500 pounds) could be fired from a boat almost a half mile away from the castle. After researching, I saw photos of the massive bombards used by the Ottomans at that time. The stone cannonballs that I cast had been shot one-by-one and the bombards had to be cooled–for 4-6 hours– between firings. It was a slow invasion. Eventually the walls of the caste and the town fell.
In addition, I thought about The Greek myth of Gaia and Uranus (which I will write about in a later post.) And I wondered how would be the best way to not only preserve these representations of antiquities, but also how to show them. I painted the inside white. Write a word or two on the inside.
The first time I showed the cannonballs was in Italy and I choose to display them on the floor, on a red field that represent blood and death. Viewers peered down in to the surface of the cannonball and the red field was dramatic. The next time the cannonball cast was affixed to to a wall and seemed like a time mirror. At Atlantic Works Gallery, I initially choose to suspend the cannonballs, so the viewer might feel as if the weapons were falling on them, or being propelled towards their body. But the beauty of the cannonball sculpture is the texture inside the cast. I found podiums and exhibit the cannonball like an army, or grouping. The light is intense and direct and shows off the rippled, sometimes pocked texture of the weapon.
The capturing of the invisible energy within the cannonballs complements other sculptural projects that I have done: Three-dimensional work that is energized by a force other than my own, that is then offered as a re-mythologized and re-consecrated object that invites pondering and possibilities about the people and spaces around us. For example, my Yoga Stupa torso sculptures and my Harvard Science Center sidewalk lights.( read more about the Prometheus Lights https://wp.me/pn0SY-vB)