An important work from Antony Gormley’s acclaimed exhibition, Still Standing, which was first presented at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg in 2011, Bind II is an exceptional example of the artist’s Hermitage Blockwork series (2010 – 2011) and the first ever to appear at auction.
The series reflected a dynamic new direction in the artist's work: an attempt to describe the internal mass and inner state of the body using the language of architecture and the built environment. As Gormley states: ‘In using the language of the architecture that surrounds us to describe an unstable inner state I hope to express its potential to fall apart.’ (A. Gormley, interview with D. Ozerkov in Antony Gormley: Still Standing, exh. cat., The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 2011, p. 57). Each of the seventeen sculptures Gormley presented in Still Standing were built up from a series of small, rectangular iron blocks; modular architectonic forms that diagrammatically map the body's internal volume, radically departing from anatomy.
The works evoke imbalance and entropy since key blocks in their visible support system have been removed and subtle displacements of weight mean that they are shifted from their own centre of gravity. Gormley has described these works as 'a kind of weaving of mass with void; a push and pull between blocks that are present and blocks that are absent'. (A. Gormley, quoted in M. Iversen, ‘Still Standing’ in Antony Gormley: Still Standing, exh. cat., The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 2011, p. 50).
When presented at the State Hermitage Museum, the abstract, severely constructed volumes and rough oxidised surfaces stood in dramatic contrast to the ornate neo-classical architectural surroundings and the confident poise of the ancient statues. The latter stood in a loose constellation directly on the ground, dethroned from their plinths, so that these idealised and sexualised bodies shared the same conditions as the viewer – and highlighted, in the artist’s words, the ‘introverted instability’ of the Blockworks.
The internal and inherent tension of Bind II, invoked in name and made evident in the tightly twisted form, expresses a body caught in a moment of bodily contraction. The pose is one produced for Gormley’s earlier series Ataxia which, inspired by a medical condition characterised by a breakdown of the nervous system, portrays a series of figural contortions ‘perhaps caused by a moment of spasm, whereby the human figure has lost its centre of gravity (A. Gormley, ibid.). In the present work, Bind II, Gormley retains the obscured gravitational centre whilst simultaneously exploring a more linear, upright posture. It is a work at the heart of the artist’s ongoing formal exploration: ‘These hard, sharp, interlocking, rectangular masses are …used to explore a registered moment in a living body’ (A. Gormley, Ibid.).
Photograph by Stephen White, London
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