1996 three projects | Guggenheim proposal

three projects on the subject of fire and the internal

(a statement of plans for the Guggenheim Fellowship 1996-7)



I have an uprooted tree, root system exposed, in my studio. When you stand in front of it the roots extend out towards you, seemingly around you. It is an unsettling encounter with that energy which is usually beneath the ground, or if you like beneath, within, the unconscious experience of tree. It feels like it could be me, the viewer, uprooted from a sense of internal continuity.

Last year I cast root systems in Britain, smaller than this one. The molten metal freezes in the pathways formed by burning out the tree, like blood flowing through arteries frozen, suspended in time. The casts, patinaed red and coupled with objects appear like exposed nervous systems. Standing in front of these sculptures you feel as if they were taken from inside of you. There is an affinity, a kinship, between viewer and object. I want to cast this big tree, to use it in a larger work.  I want it’s presence to be engulfing.



I was watching a video tape on volcanic eruptions. In one scene of the tape there are local entrepreneurs ladling lava from a flowing river of molten rock. They push this lava into a small cast mold producing souvenir paperweights.

I want to cast several iron molds to use as receptacles for flowing molten lava. These molds will be belly shaped, womb like. The cooled lava casts with iron molds will be accompanied with photographed / filmed images; overflowing red hot molten rock, both metaphor for and reminder of a seething libidinal interior. (Both Mount Aetna and the islands of Hawaii have safe accessible lava flow. This is possible.)



Installed flush into the concrete of the sidewalk is the screen of a video monitor (protected from vandalism with thick shatterproof glass). The image on the monitor is that of an enlarged beating human heart. The loud pulsing sound of it’s beating resonates up from within the concrete. Seen from a distance at night it looks like a dim red pulsing light glowing from the surface, perhaps an entrance to a heated interior.  Drawing closer it is recognized as a pulsing heart. This is a brief description of a temporary public installation, Beating Heart. I can imagine this encounter only as an evocative and moving experience.



I have outlined three projects that have evolved out of central themes for me. They are plans for new work that I have generated with enthusiasm. Because they are ambitious all of these works will require financial resource currently beyond my means. I am applying to the Guggenheim Foundation for support towards realizing this work.