« ONE STILL SECOND BY MORGANE TSCHIEMBER », by Erwan Michel
Every point mass attracts every other point mass by a force proportional to the product of the two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the point masses. Isaac Newton
One Still Second explores three fundamentals through which sculpture works or rests. But then work and rest are always linked by the same idea: the load, that, when exercised, affects, and when inert, weighs.
First of all: verticality, horizontality – erecting. Since the prehistoric raised stones (menhirs), it has been almost a constant in the presentation of sculpture throughout the history of art, until Carl Andre knocked verticality flat. Well known: Brancusi’s Endless Column (a pedestal repeated in numerous piled-up modules), considered as inaugurating modern sculpture. Andre said that it inspired him in conceiving his own work, in which he put the endless column along the floor, thereby upending the constant of verticality, beginning the horizontal presentation of sculpture.
Next, the support: the sculpture rests or stands on the pedestal, or the floor.
Finally, this immaterial fluid, or flux, which passes through every sculpture: the displacement needed in order to consider the piece as a three-dimensional whole – moving around it – or the movement that the piece expresses by virtue of its structure, its lines, its empty spaces.
… we have known since Newton, by his observation of planetary movements, that vertical falling and orbital movements are the same kinds of movements …
One Still Second: a crane goes about raising the material (asphalt was chosen for its association with roads – it was also used in an earlier piece, Parallèles – as well as its volcanic appearance). The erection of this shaped asphalt is designed to make it fall to the ground, onto a floor covered with gravel, that being the condition for making the piece: the material is deformed, shattered, powerfully affected by its fall. A very specific way of sculpting …
From this fall thus comes the final form of the sculpture as the object crashes down and its shock waves spread horizontally over the floor.
Whereas Carl Andre sets out his modules horizontally along the ground, making them follow any curves it might have, then here the relation between the material and the terrain is the result of a collision.
Affected by the impact of the fall, the floor retains the traces of this violence, marked by the waves that appeared in the gravel: the fluid and the invisible are made visible.
The result creates the overall feel of a Zen garden. In the little booklet about the project Morgane Tschiember establishes a rather striking visual link that juxtaposes two regions of the world and two distant histories: the menhirs of Brittany (where she was born) engraved with circular marks, and the Zen garden, made of stones that are most usually volcanic, surrounded by gravel combed into curved lines. … Morgane Tschiember also knows the Southwest of the USA, and the American landscape has made a big impression on her. To mention only one place: Meteor Crater, Arizona. The volcanic, prehistoric appearance of One Still Second can also be traced back to that landscape.
To these three notions can be added a fourth, which is represented here by the impact: contact. Not that of the burin on stone, but rather that of one material on another, of material against space.
Her recent participation in a group show whose sole locus was the printed support (5-31 January 2009, organised by Jean-Charles Agboton-Jumeau, in homage to Seth Siegelaub’s famous exhibition-catalogue), consisted in printing two sentences on facing pages, which pages naturally touched when the book was closed and were separated when it was open. These sentences literally stated the fact of this contact or separation. The words, printed in selective varnish (transparent letters on white paper) were, furthermore, only just visible. Opening and closing the catalogue, a real action performed on the object, brought into contact or separated the substance of the varnish and paper on the opposing phases, actualising one or the other of the two sentences.
Contact: the Running bonds, or bond-stone walls cemented by pink mortar, thus brought into relation two substances, one crushed by the other, not mixable and yet violently interconnected. The rough feel contrasted with the visual voluptuousness of the pink. These pieces also establish contact with the spaces in which they are placed by virtue of the supports needed for their stability.
Contact: the sensual dimension of One Still Second, accompanying the violence of its fall and impact: that of a paroxysm, a foundational contact.
This piece consists of a powerful moment of impact and its materialisation (including the waves that spread through space and tremble in the ground). It therefore tells us something about sensuality: violent and monumental, it seems to be exercised here in an almost cosmic dimension, and includes us in this new relation of scales.
Every point mass attracts every other point mass by a force proportional to the product of the two masses … we also find this law of the inverse proportionality in acoustics, when we consider the aural pressure of a spherical wave front spreading from a source point, gently decreasing …
One Still Second speaks to us of sculpture. After Brancusi and Carl Andre, Morgane shows us another way of sculpting, for one second managing to make gravitational attraction the event that leads to form, and at the same time the condition of appearance of a work that seems to be outside time – resting on and by virtue of the ground where the immobile waves are inscribed.