Antony Gormley and the Origin of "Tactile Burden"

"Sculpture knows what it lacks. It wants mobility and consciousness."

These words from renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley are particularly relevant to my work here at sportsBabel, since his project for the past twenty-five years has concerned the human body as subject of study, tool and material. Specifically, Gormley is interested in the body as form, but also the field in which it exists and in how other bodies will interact with it to co-produce meaning.

Gormley recently presented a retrospective of his work to the European Graduate School, and the temporal compression of twenty-five years into 90 minutes provided a dazzling insight and comprehension into the trajectory of his creative thought during this period. Admittedly, I was not a big fan of sculpture prior to his presentation, but I was smitten! The body dematerializes in his work, but he tries to wrest it back!

During the q+a session I tried to spit out a question about "blah, blah, blah … the tactile burden?"

He says: "Tactile burden? I never thought about it like that …" And he repeats the phrase: "Tactile burden."

So I get really excited. Over the next few days I start trying to figure out exactly what I mean by "tactile burden" and what it means for my own "philosophy". And that is what is consuming me right now …

Since then, I have been to see the Gormley exhibit at the Hayward in London. Over the next few posts I will be providing a synopsis of my trip there as well as key works presented during the lecture to EGS, and hopefully drawing (perceived) links to my work here at sportsBabel.


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