The likeness in marble dust is from a direct mould of the subject’s face (Andre Bazin likens photograph to a death mask, moulded from that face). It’s a temporary sculpture, reformed for every showing. The delicacy of the thing solicits the desire to touch, but of course to touch it would be to destroy the likeness, would dislodge its precarious shape. Like a refection in water – touch the surface and the splash disrupts the image. In a reversal of the shift, in the Corinthian Maid myth, from the graphic image to the plastic form, the sculpture in its turn becomes the subject of a photograph, fixing that precarity in the stillness of the picture. It is a photograph of the sculpture, but not of this sculpture, the one here on the floor, but an earlier point in the series of temporary sculptures made for each showing of the work. Possibly the original sculpture, though what status accrues to an original is rather thrown into question. But in the studio now the two works, sculpture and photograph, photograph of an earlier form of the present sculpture, vie for primacy in a struggle without resolution. Perhaps that irresolution in itself is the point: this skein of mediations, from body to shadow to tracing to cast to sculpture – when the lover departs, only this tangle of shadows and shadows of shadows remains.
Extract from the essay An Impossible Task
by Seán Padraic Birnie
Semblance, 2015, ephemeral cast in Thassos marble dust, dimensions variable.
Semblance, 2015, archival pigment print, 60 x 57 x 3 cm, edition of 5 + 1 AP