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Book presentation: Ernst van Alpen - Seven Logics of Sculpture

10 November 2022, Brussels

  • An introduction to Ernst van Alphen's forthcoming book Seven Logics of Sculpture
  • With a special focus on the work of Didier Vermeiren, which is on view at WIELS until 8 January 2022

What: Presentation by Ernst van Alphen
With: Ernst van Alphen
When: Thursday, 10 November 2022, 19.00–19.45 hrs
Where: WIELS, Avenue Van Volxem 354, 1190 Brussels
Organised by: WIELS

Although most conventional sculptures look formally like a solid object, their appearance suggests otherwise. The appearance suggests an inner essence, structure, or experience that explains and causes the outer appearance. But when we consider sculptures as solids, it means that they are beings without an internal cavity, that they consist of a uniformly close and coherent texture. And of course, when we speak of inner essence, structure, or experience, this is metaphorically speaking; it concerns meaning as we derive it from the sculpture’s appearance. There is no real cavity, no unfilled space within the mass of the sculpture.

So, when Belgian sculptor Didier Vermeiren uses titles like Geometrical Solids or Solides plastiques for his works, it is provocatively clear that he takes distance from Neoclassical sculpture and that he is less interested in how sculpture appears and what it means, and more in what sculpture is and consists of. One could say that his whole career has been motivated by a systematic deconstruction of the medium of sculpture; he explores the different building blocks of sculpture, rather than sculpture as an art in and of itself. According to Dominic van den Boogerd, Vermeiren’s work addresses fundamental issues such as: ‘What is sculpture? How do we recognize a piece of sculpture and what is that recognition based on? What makes it sculpture? How has that idea been formed over the centuries, and how is it changing today?’

Ernst van Alphen (b. 1958) is a cultural analyst and a professor emeritus of Literary Studies at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society. His publications include Shame! and Masculinity (Valiz, 2020); Failed Images (Valiz, 2018); Staging the Archive (Reaktion Books, 2014).

Seven Logics of Sculpture is available for pre-order here. Once the book is published, we will dispatch your order.