Pourtalès park – Strasbourg
A figure with naturalistic features, squatting next to a sphere, points a finger at a place on a map placed on the ground. This map can be found reproduced and installed further on, on a lesser scale, on which are placed seven small spheres which correspond to the positions of other sculptures in the park. Not far away, a third even smaller map is physically and symbolically emptied of its content. Finally, a last map ends up withering away by disseminating itself amongst the vegetation.
The artwork functions like a poetic narrative of the place : it finds itself decomposed in an ekphrastic play on scale and distance which syncopates the whole installation. This “spirit of the place” who seems to want to help us instead sows doubt. The dimensions of the map dwindle and it loses its utilitarian interest.
“The ground itself gains the upper hand in its cartographic transcription” G. P.
In the same way as the visible elements are reduced, the sculptural object is dispersed and becomes vegetalized : the bits of map are finally nothing more than leaves amongst leaves. The verdant patina of the ageing of the bronze only accelerates the process, rendering more perceptible the linguistic acuteness provoked by the use of the word ‘‘pianta’’ which in Italian signifies both plant and map. Finally the repetition and successive decomposition at the heart of a single narrative brings us back to the major question in art concerning singularity and multiplicity, as if the multiple only leads to nothingness and the visible artwork to its obliteration. Giulio Paolini’s artistic process enters into correspondence with our own mental process which is animated by the “utopian” desire to apprehend a space in its entirety.
Group sculpted in resin – 2001