March: Points of meeting
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Our experience of landscapes can be determined by meeting points. Pathways into landscapes and the appearance of forms can be measured according our movement within them and our eagerness to see new things. Within cities, these meeting points feel particularly striking because you either have to search for them or they can appear unexpectedly. Spring flowers open, birds search for nesting, skies change appearance as days lengthen - all amongst the chaos of urban living. Spring is the season devoted to change and new meetings, always welcoming us amongst the hard dominance of city activity and the entrapment of digital connection.
Alexander Heim's work during the 2005-08 period interestingly explored convergences between the natural world and the human world, particularly in cities and makes me think about points of meeting as essential to how we see and experience landscape space in urban environments. Cracks in paths, glassed interiors, passageways and points of meeting are particular to our experience of urban environments and Heim captures these points of engagement, displaying found objects and creating new forms which reference chance happenings. Walking is an essential means of producing his work, leading him into the unexpected and allowing him to see things. The appearance of a swan nestling her signets on a bed of reeds and litter is unexpected and beautiful, as is the quality of cracked glass on wing mirrors, the effect of city noise and mess.
In a series of paper mache sculptures also from 2008, his forms suggest urban platforms, barriers or routes into city areas. He also made crafted ceramic bowls in this period, the centres were made from elements of melted glass, collected from urban contexts. Similarly to the swan, living and surviving amongst the chaos and mess of the city, his ceramics make use of disregarded materials, creating new forms from the debrie of urban chaos.
Heim also used video in this period. His film 'Costa' records the wanderings of a pigeon first in a shopping centre and then on a London street. The footage is juxtaposed with sounds from a domestic environment of someone in their home. Again he seems to be exploring how the natural world and the human world can meet, where things are susceptible to chance and occur randomly. Like the textures of his sculptures and bowls, we follow the points where the cracks meet and see how the textures change. In 'Drip Drawing 1, made in ink on paper, the image evokes something forming without literally describing it - a bird, the gradient of a hill, or a tangled piece of wire. In 2008 we talked about this.
LG: Your documentation of chance happenings interestingly relates to your crafted work. I'm thinking particularly about your line, drip drawings, where the image evokes something without literally describing it. Have you always drawn?
AH: I used to a lot more than I do now. Although they are drawings I would say that the process of making them is closer to sculpture, as it is mainly gravity forming those shapes.
LG: Your experience of the city feels quite detached, but you’re engaging with things all the time. Is the process of walking and wandering a regular way of working?
AH: Yes, a lot. I love wandering around without having any destination or purpose.
LG: Can you tell us a bit about your sculptures. How did the work develop?
AH: They are made from old newspapers and relate to the pigeon video. Pigeons are descendants from rock doves, which typically nest in cliffs by the sea. My own guess is that they adapted to life in cities so well, because facades (especially older ones) resemble their natural habitat. The sculptures are something between an organic shape and architecture.
LG: The bowls are beautiful. Did you intend them to be shown in the space like this or were they originally made as individual objects?
AH: I like mostly seeing them in groups scattered over the wall.
New work by Alex includes video work such as Making of Several Polymer Nebulae, 2018 which intrigues me as a moving image of polymer material moving as if it is water but then the water strangely changes from a fluid to a static form. Dualities in natural and manufactured movement seem to be a reoccurring theme in Alex's work and there is also a sense in this video of an underlying image or state of natural existence being masked by a material. We are familiar with the motion of the polymer, but at the same time we are not quite sure where the movement of the material will take us and how it will change the form.
I'm looking forward to seeing future work by Alex which features material process and dialogues with landscape contexts. Spring brings new materials as well as forms which Alex makes us contemplate as potentially transformative through his beautiful and elusive work.