Speech on Unveiling Ceremony of “Taiwan Ruyi (Content) — Endless Life”
As we know, art can be divided into “time art”, for example, poetry and music, and “spatial art”, like painting and sculpture. Spatial art, as defined in the article “Spatial Fantasy and Spatial Illusion” (1963) written by Kurt Badt, can fall into three categories: it involves extension of space when referring to painting, come down to mould of space in the aspect of architecture, while referring to sculpture, it involves the behavior of space.
When we are facing steel sculpture of Muxiang Kang, we can sense that his sculptures not only extend but also mould in the space——at the same time, our behavior to the space changes too. Why a piece of art works is not only a sculpture, but also a painting and architecture as well? That’s because sculpture experienced several phases of development and transformation in 20th century: 1st phase was the shape, and then the function came 2nd, the material followed and last phase was performance/behavior.
From classical sculpture to Giacometti in the 20th century, sculpture has been focused on shape, mainly on shapes of human bodies or animals. Sculpture imitates living creatures. From Constantin Brancusi to Henry Moore, what demonstrates before us is a gallery full of living objects. They turn specific objects into abstract shapes, like cubes, chunks or balls, which audience can find out what they stand for by guessing.
The principles of shape were dominant in the 20th century. While establishing many sculpture institutes, sculpting was losing its charm as art. The architectural school should take main responsibility for this. It brought in a new concept of “shape is subject to function”, that is, function is the priority, in spatial mould. When shapes can’t fit to the needs of function, the function will return to the original state before taking into shape, that is, material. Material became the pillar of function for shapes weren’t important any more, which led to desire for new material. All of a sudden, artists didn’t need to forge iron and steel into some kind of shapes. The demonstration of itself as material and its rust could convey enough messages. Now we can see that, Muxiang Kang from Taiwan, is also material sculptor. He adopts iron and steel – the original power of his works comes from its material. The iron and steel he uses is a special type, actually it’s steel cable, which were used as drive belt for loading and speed. The steel cable Kang uses is from “Taipei 101”, the highest green office building in the world.
It was used to drive the elevators in this skyscraper. The steel cable in Kang’s works is pure material left with marks after using. At the same time, it gains a physical appearance created by Kang. After processed by Kang, it makes people think of embryo of human beings. Steel sculpture created by Kang through steel cable is not an abstract one. On the contrary, it intends to acknowledge life through its shape. Therefore, the steel cable has a resounding name: Endless
Life –Life is infinite.
Two achievements of modern sculpture, one is readymade feature of industrial product, the other is emphasis on substance, which are both converged on steel sculpture of Kang. Kang also transforms industry into civilization by creating steel cable of elevator as works with living forms. He translates its moving power of the structure that stretches into the sky into totem of the origin of life – civilization returns nature.
concepts on the wall of ZKM has syllable of “re-”, including “re-birth” and “re-use”.
All these concepts are committed to re-modernize our society and reset modernism. Art creation by Kang belongs to the theme of modern reset – so it
belongs to where it is. It comes to Karlsruhe at the moment when the city marks 300 anniversaries. From enlightenment to modernism, previous main stream and contemporary one converge in the city, giving us guidance on the future road of globalization.