The sculptures of Cornelia Parker

19 July 2016

I was watching TV and chanced upon a trailer for an upcoming BBC programme about artist Cornelian Parker. The similarities between her “suspended sculptures” and the effect I had hoped to achieve with my final piece for Assignment 5 were striking. Parker works with fragmentation and the arrangement of found objects in 3D or 2D space. Her sculptures are site specific installations using space and light to create a feeling of movement frozen in time. 

Examples include the 3D piece “Hanging fire (suspected arson) (1999)” in which Parker arranges actual pieces of charcoal from an arson attack. In the piece, the charcoal fragments are arranged to form a pattern reminiscent of fragments of shrapnel dispersing during an explosion, suspended a few inches from the floor and extending to the ceiling, they are fixed using wire, pins and nails. The occupies the space of a rectangular cube 144x60x72 inches.

A second example, and perhaps the most famous of her sculptures of this series, is “Cold dark matter: an exploded view” (1991) . This piece similarly occupies a large 3D space and consists of the suspended fragments of a blown up shed – it is as if the explosion is suspended in a moment in time – there is order in the size of the pieces and the distance they have travelled from the point of detonation. Also there are changes in their density (closeness together) as they eye moves further from the detonation point. What I particularly like about the image in the link I have included, is the lighting; each fragment is duplicated several times as shadows. Of course, each shadow is different, and distorted from the original shape, so whilst there is a degree of unity, there is also diversity. Tonal variations in shadows give further interest.

This photograph of the shadows created by my final piece was taken in natural sunlight. I’m sure it would be possible to make even more interesting shapes and tones in a gallery setting using multi-directional spotlights, as has been achieved with Cornelia Parker’s suspended sculptures.


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