Humanity-- A Living Installation, 1994-97
"Humanity-A Living Installation" consists of over 2,000 forms grouped in various configurations to present the individual within evolving social structures. I configure the forms to respond to both physical and contextual aspects of the environments in which they are placed. With an infinite number of configurations possible, the work remains fluid and changing in response to a variety of environments.
I place the small scale forms directly on the floor to shift the perspective of the viewer from a personal, one-on-one interaction with the work, to that of a detached observer, gazing down into another world. I utilize reduced scale and placement to reflect the shrinking stature of human beings, from their elevation during the Renaissance, to their inconsequential dimensions of the modern world.
Through the multiplication of form, I strive to transcend the precious nature of "one of a kind" fine art by merging fine art processes with mass production. I encourage collectors to participate in choosing and configuring their own unique groupings as a collaborative means of creative expression.
The forms are metaphors for human beings. They express our physical nature, through the use of similar but unique forms; our spiritual nature, through the mythological "third eye" and our social nature, through the relationships between forms. Overall, I strive to balance formal artistic concerns, humor, and accessibility with the social, philosophical, and spiritual issues that shape humanity.
"Random Grouping" (1994-95) utilizes the imagery of zippers, buttons and diaper pins to present the "individual" as existing within the social framing of populations while the "naked" sculptures present freedom from culturally inscribed roles.
"Holy War" (1994-95) An army of forms with zippers present "selfhood" as existing within the social framing of populations while the "naked" forms present freedom from culturally inscribed gender roles. The linear arrangement of the zipper forms represents military force, aggression and intimidation while the random placement of naked forms represents vulnerability and compliance of Third World populations.
"Communion" (1996) consists of partially unzipped forms, which expose electrical cords suggesting the modern-day quest for external fulfillment.
"Agricultural Revolution" (1996) consists of an army of corn which represents the advent of "civilization" marking humanity's rise to power during the Agricultural Revolution through the production and control of food sources. The "naked" forms present Hunter-Gatherers as living in harmony and balance with nature. The linear arrangement of the ears of corn represents control through military force, aggression and intimidation while the random placement of "naked" forms represents vulnerability and compliance of native populations.
"Habitual Motion" (1996) consists of forms that crawl up and fall off of a stage to represent the cyclical nature of life.
"Circle of Protection" (1997) is part of a largerinstallation titled "The Gurdjieff Work," which consists of warped zipper forms crawling up some stairs to express the human struggle to attain higher levels of consciousness as symbolized by the pure beings. In "Circle of Protection," eight large female forms surround a cluster of small child forms, symbolizing the role of mother as protector and the vulnerability of children.
-Devorah Sperber, 1998