9 Sculpturen

In the private setting of his friend Filip Francis’s Antwerp studio, multidisciplinary Belgian artist Leo Copers directed 9 Sculpturen (9 Sculptures). Initially it was a performance, first presented during the third edition of the Triennale in Bruges, and Copers then decided to re-enact it in front of a camera, without the audience. Nine found objects, treated as sculptural forms, are successively set into motion by the artist: a cloth, a piece of tree branch, a stone, a bag filled with sand, a bag filled with water, a flame, a round incandescent lamp, a fluorescent tube, and some glass debris. These are attached to the end of a rope (or to an extension cord connected to the electricity mains, in the lamps’ case) that the artist lifts above his body. In wide circular movements, he casts the objects onto the wall behind him. The camera follows this process, changing the size of the frame as the action goes ahead. For each of the nine objects, close-up frames and overviews alternate, thereby exposing three different stages: the original object, its movement, and finally, the result of this impact. Here, video is not used merely to keep a record of the performance; it is a work of art in itself, in which the camera has a role to play. With these repeated actions, Copers explores the link between creation and destruction. Once broken, the branch splits. The glass shatters into a thousand pieces. The water and the sand spill out onto the floor. The neon’s intense light leaves an imprint on the camera’s vidicon. Explosion and shattering allow new forms to arise. The sculptural material disperses and reorganizes itself. The artist instigates the process, risking his own life (this is particularly true when the stone is dropped or when the electric lamps are being manipulated). A poetic and ephemeral creation emerges from the violence of the gesture, modeled with the help of the camera’s lens.