Twelve Gates to the Totem, Hallelujah!
Ludwig Zeller

 

  The bronze sculpture is composed of thirteen feminine figures. They form a spiral. The spiral moves counterclockwise. I know of no other sculpture whose movement goes so rigorously against the clock. Clockwise is eyewise in our culture; it is the way we see the flow of energy. This is why engravings, dead to the eye on the copper plate, come alive when reversed on the printed page. Clockwise compels the eye. So this counterclockwise sculpture is a defiant, revolutionary gesture. That it works in the eye is a miracle. Perhaps its movement is entirely feminine, sinister in the most profound sense, sinister in noman’s land.

 

    In any case, these figures spiralling in space represent an inner process. Each is of importance, unique, and whole. They signal isolated fugitives conjoined in a conspiracy of inquiry.

 

    In this bronze sculpture the solid base, the mound, perhaps the ancient burial mound, acts as contrast to the architectonic weaving of figures in the air. The women become a metal arabesque that defies gravity, adopting the communal movement of the spiral as a way of flying.

 

    The whole shows the effects of a concentric and upwards moving force, but there are counter statements within the movement. One figure moves in an opposite direction, another is head down and a third falls backwards as if thrust down and out of the totem.

 

    The totem, seen from above, is a whirlpool of figures on the verge of abandoning their bodies, their corporality. This is a noman’s land in every sense. From above, the crucified woman seems to fall back into the core of the spiral, absorbed, absolved, snatched from death, a life saved through the art of communal offering. The spiral of women becomes a completely revolutionary act. For the first time, women, who have always been figures of earth and water, are figures of air and fire. Suspending disbelief they have seized the male domain, moving counter to time, fixing themselves in the ardor of flight, losing themselves in the inquiring flame, finding redemption in the milk of the almond tree.

 

© 2015 Claire Weissman Wilks