Go, Gentle Scorpio


Parallel Oaxaca, Oaxaca Mexico

“The head is the most important part of the figure,
The body and the legs are less weighty
Active hands are emphasized, like speaking mouths
Quantity is used to emphasize intensity.
Inactive, unimportant or uninteresting parts are only indicated or neglected. There are even figures without bodies. You will find without my explanation in which direction our interest is led, where our attention is absorbed…”

These lines refer to a series of slides of Mexican pre-Columbian sculptures Josef Albers showed during a lecture entitled “Truthfulness in Art”. The audience in the dimly lit room at Harvard in 1940 was able to see the pictures he described. Today, the reader of the transcript can only meet them in his imagination.

There’s an idea to be found in many theories about the origin of sculpture suggesting that the first creation of representations was triggered by mental images or by the perception of accidents, of natural origin or produced by non-iconic human traces. This “fortuitous realism” could be then attributed to a faculty of projection, associated with a better-understood faculty of feature recognition (i.e. the ability to recognize an object from visual clues). Some researchers like the rock expert Robert G. Bednarik have come to say this process has its origin on the inherent ambiguity of visual perception or what he calls “imaginative perception”.

Two main questions behind this project are: What is the starting point of a sculpture? How do you represent something you haven’t yet seen?

In a scene from the movie “Bullets over Broadway” we can see an actress fooling her director and playwright into transforming her character in the play. She does it so openly (to the point of the absurd) that we are led to question to what extent the director is still in control of his own fiction work. One can see a similarity between this process and the one of making sculpture.

(A B-side/ghost-press-release to this text is included in Anna M. Szaflarski’s bi-weekly journal Letters to the Editors, distributed at the opening of the exhibition GO, GENTLE SCORPIO at Parallel /// Oaxaca on the night of the 19th December 2014. Consecutive copies are available from Szaflarski personally when you happen to see or meet her on the street or anywhere else.)