Sunday, September 16, 2007

Richard Serra at the MoMa

Looking at Serra's work from the second floor of the MoMa was very different than being in the actual space the sculpture occupied. The massive walls of the piece, created simple minimalist curving flowing lines, that from above I found pleasant, calming almost meditative.

All that changed drastically when I went downstairs to experience the space of the sculpture. My first reaction was, Good God! I hope those steel thick walls don't fall on me! I could feel the crushing weight of the material just by looking at it. I felt liquid and insignificant just being so near those walls. They were so solid and the shear amount of mass was incredibly intimidating. I felt so distinctly small and vulnerable as I walked around the work. I tried to keep my distance; it was increasingly distressing where the walls sloped outward from the center of the piece as they created overhangs that you had to walk under. The exterior walls were not as intimidating when the walls sloped in on themselves, they provided some relief from the anxiety of the overhangs.

The patina of the steel walls was a simple matte red brown rust that varied subtly on the surface. I was more comfortable with the smaller interior bowls of space the massive walls created. Groups of 10 to 12 people wandered in and out of those enclosed spaces. Inside felt like containment with one entrance functioning also as the exit.

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