Robin Kirsten

Interior of L’Atelier Brancusi, Paris. Photograph by Robin Kirsten © Robin Kirsten

Bones. A graveyard of sorts. And cold steel discs polished to hyper-sheen. Chromium-plated portholes into infinite space. On hunks of fossilised trunks and blocks of heavy heavy rock. Columns, chunks, casts and some cracks.

Indistinguishable shifting forms or formless shapes, geometric even. Stacked, piled and grouped. Totemic solids as the axis of a world. Legions of these, elemental and still, glisten without shadows in the all over light.

Three rooms and four spaces, in salient homage to the age of the new new. A mausoleum really, or certainly a period room. Setting a museum, the kind that Nikolai Federov could use. To waken the dead, and reignite this, the idling machine, into beeping again.

Objects like pistons, valves and some dials, once operated by acute increments, then captured on silver nitrate with its aura that pulls. Objects like bits that collect on some drive, downloaded from yesterday, uploaded for now. The long now is all there is in this mirage of a previous tomorrow. Of rooms filled with things, iconic and generic, in arrangements, in constellations, in perpetual au revoir.

And all this behind bullet proof glass. Of a thick vitrine, all of walls, transparent and hard. These giant holes where bricks should have been, impenetrable and illusory, framing only you. On the other side, in the middle where the centre should be, eons of night’s graft condensed into an image. A single slow snap with effects already plugged in.

I’d say it’s a hologram.

Circulating around this crystalline cube, things shift in relation to what eyes can see. Depth as illusion. Illusion as depth. Flickering on the mind’s light-emitting diode display as you remember those bound souls in Plato’s Cave. Cocked onto silhouettes from its dark heart of endless fire, pictures tell stories in a language always already gone.

And all this from the outside, which is really another inside. In a Klein bottle or impossible Euclidian curve. But here is point zero, where all dimensions connect. Time, space, gravity, place, mashed into one. Visible from the ambulatory surrounding the high altar of high-Modernism’s high priest, L’Atelier Brancusi touches down forever in Paris’ centre north.

Interior scene: a Beckettian no drama, where nothing much happens at all. People sit, or maybe they don’t. Someone stares, looking for anything. Or sometimes not. On the trip around those spaces with things, some guards, bored. Waiting for the go dot. Neon lights flicker. On. Off. Dot. Then more nothing, more of before.

Atelier Brancusi, where Greek tragedy and VR meet, in Renzo Piano’s amphitheatre for Federov’s (soon to be) living dead. Or a space ship waiting for lift off to take Brancusi to some or other astral plane, to continue to continue, to repeat the before.

Somewhere in the universe, where information is always in formation, Piano’s vision, and Brancusi’s Knight’s move, shape a phenomenon of metaphorical awe.

This project is supported by a

from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg