Review

Distance

On a cliff in Angersnes in Nordland’s Leirfjord municipality there is a quadrangular construction. Seen at a distance from the road leading down toward the fjord it may recall the frame of a house never built or the remains of a house after a severe windstorm. It lies on a cliff, frail and vulnerable, long abandoned and relinquished to the disintegrating forces of nature.

This impression changes as one nears the work. Frailty and vulnerability become an easy elegance and the color that appeared rust-like from a distance assumes a reddish/purple hue: the same wintertime color of the dwarf birch trees that populate the area. At this point, the construction appears as a decorative minimalist element in nature, harmonically sited facing out toward the fjord.

Upon reaching the construction and walking around and within it, the elegant form becomes transformed into an enormous steel frame of gigantic proportions, stretching three and a half meters into the sky. The fifty-five running meters of steel square piping are welded into a cohesive form; the vertical elements form two rectangles at either end that are 2.2 meters wide while two 18 meter lengths connect these rectangular openings in a single, continuous closed movement. The light construction floats unencumbered between sky and fjord, intermittently touching down on the cliff.

The reddish/ purple hue now appears as the industrial paint color that it is, acknowledging and emphasizing the construction’s withdrawal into itself, an autonomous steel construction, something apart from nature. The work also transforms the surrounding nature in this process. The steel lines of the self-contained, self-staged minimalist work transform nature into a stage for its own realization. However, this lasts but an instant. Upon manifesting itself as an autonomous form, it immediately transgresses its own abstraction in a framing gesture. The steel is imperceptibly transformed from work to frame and landscape, where the stage had previously been transformed into work. The frame visually penetrates nature, a gesture that displaces the typical encounter with nature and strips it of its immediacy.

The steel, however, does not only frame the field of vision. Upon stepping into the sculpture, the frame’s rectangular shape creates its own space, a space that envelops the body. In the span between the work’s material existence consisting of the steel structure and the surrounding nature, which is framed and thus becomes part of the work, there is a sense of presence and immediacy that lies far from the steel frame’s piercing gesture. Yet this place is not closer to nature. The experience of presence in the work’s enclosing gesture is one that is characterized by distance.

The artist Brazilian Waltercio Caldas (1946) has made distance part of the expression in the work he has titled Around. Around creates distance to nature by framing and piercing, confiscating nature in advance and making it part of the work. Through this displacement, Around transgresses distance as an absolute. Caldas’s construction evokes a site-specific presence whose penetrating gesture simultaneously distances a sense of immediacy. The site he has chosen is remote from roads and tourists, and yet is distinguished by anonymity not unlike that of a gallery. Around is dependent on nature, for it is through a distance to nature that a sense of presence is created. In his contribution to this project, Waltercio Caldas relies on distance from nature to realize his work in the unique landscape of Nordland.

Bente Larsen

When I saw the sculpture for the first time, I thought it looked most of all like a big iron frame. It was large and red. I think they have found a great place for the sculpture. If you look through the sculpture you get a nice frame around the landscape behind it. The sculpture looks quite easy to make. You need iron, good welders and paint. I don’t think the sculpture is very good, but it is placed on a good site.

Martin Skog Tømmervik, Leirfjord elementary school

I chose the sculpture because I thought it was great.

It was a lot of fun making it. My group painted it reddish/brown and made it in wood. It is also an advantage that it is in the neighbourhood. Many poeple were against it when it was to be built and some still are, but I like it.

There are many sculptures that are more beautiful, but I like it anyway. It is a simple rectangular shape and is supposed to be a frame, but some people call it «The Bed» because it looks like one.

When you drive or walk past it, you see a beautiful landscape inside or through the sculpture. I am glad I chose this sculpture because there is so much interesting reading material about it too.

Kristina Albertsen, Leirfjord elementary school

Around the Tropical Arctic

The population is scarce. The nature is magnificent. Man is enchanted by the vision. A significant number of artists in the Artscape Nordland project have chosen to work in this deserted region with either houses or doors. A house reflects  man’s need for shelter as well as  his need to inscribe his mark.

Any solitary door installed in this setting would frame the area. A door stands for man’s capacity to think about nature and to transform it. It evokes notions of the Renaissance’s symbolic window onto the world and mastering of perspective in art. The symbolic The Eye in Stone by Anish Kapoor installs an essential gaze in the Nordland. This artist has always played with ambiguity, inventing spaces to be perceived as larger than the frames in which they are carved. Kapoor introduced the inaugural passage through which the gaze can turn the primal nature of Nordland into landscape. The eye is the world; the door is the gaze. Is this the birth of landscape? Or an even more remote event? Is it the birth of the subject that constitutes landscape? This inception of this distinction also announces the need for language.

Waltércio Caldas’ sculpture Around, which is installed in Leland, reflects the distances he observed between houses in Leirfjord. Some of his sculptures are kin to the paintings by Giorgio Morandi. Both artists deal with the constitution of the sublime presence of things. In Morandi’s  still lives, the space between one bottle and the other is atmosphere, formed by light and air.  Caldas’ work focuses an attention on small details, not unlike the image of  Marcel Duchamp’s notion of the infra slim being  placed in the labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges. Thus, Around could be a place between Zero and the next number closest to Zero.

The open metal structure of Around draws upon the distance between houses in the surrounding area. The cube becomes an index for an actual socializing architecture. Caldas’ cultural origins encompass the tradition of neo-Concretism as a haven for the symbolic and subjective presence in the world of rational forms. Around may recall the open geometric volumes constructed in space with metal wire that have been produced since the early fifties by Neo-concrete sculptor Franz Weissman.  In the seventies, Weissman exhibited his sculptures in the open space in Ipanema, the area of Rio where Caldas lived. Around may also be related to the sculpture Caldas made for the beachfront in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The interest in otherness and identity that developed from neo-Concretism and which is apparent in Around may also be linked with Hélio Oiticica’s installation Tropicália (1967). Oiticica’s work makes reference to the architecture of the favelas, the slums of Brazil, as a socio-cultural space that has been shaped by political ties and marginalization in a tropical civilization. In the Arctic, the work of Caldas involves survival in low temperatures – Magueira meets Leirfjord. While Caldas’ oeuvre resists discussions of anthropological distinctions, the seemingly ascetic and minimalist work Around is able to serve as a comment on the ambivalence of distance when bonding and separating people in a given culture. With a foreigner’s perspective, Caldas has negotiated the presence of his art with the make-up of social engineering in Leirfjord. Around deals with socialization and individualization. The facing doors of Around are infinitely reciprocal mirrors. If Kapoor announces the creation of language, then Caldas utters it to frame alterations.

Paulo Herkenhoff
 

I look forward to seeing the midnight sun through this frame.
Mayor Åshild Albertsen at the dedication ceremony. Helgelands Blad 04.10.94

The mayor of Leirfjord – Åshild Albertsen – looks forward to seeing the midnight sun through an 18 meter long railroad track with some iron try squares. These are supposed to be adults... has the world gone crazy? As if we don’t have enough scrap iron lying about and marring our beautiful nature, and we will have more of the same – because foreign so-called “artists” have come here and call this art.
From a letter to the editor signed Ivar Olsen,
8820 Solfjellsjøen in Helgelands Blad 08.10.94

Enough distance to see the people.
Headline in Helgeland Arbeiderblad 05.12.00

The sculpture “Omkring” (Around) can be considered to be Leirfjord and the soul of the natives of Leirfjord, seen and filtered through foreign glasses.
Helgeland Arbeiderblad 05.12.00

The sculpture is our child.
Arne Meisfjordskar, head of neighborhood committee in Ulvangen, at the dedication ceremony. Helgelands Blad 04.10.94