Movement stands in contrast to what sculpture is commonly associated with—the permanent and static. One artist who challenged that idea was Alexander Calder, who already in 1931 with his mobiles let objects leave the podium and move freely in the air before us. One of the world’s foremost choreographers William Forsythe’s oeuvre is the starting point for the exhibition SculptureMotion. While Calder spoke of Objet ballet, Forsythe talks about choreographic objects, something he has worked with for 20 years.
The artworks encompass slow-motion as well as action; when one artist asks us to lie down, another urges us—Stand up! In thematizing movement, one reference from Swedish art history is Movement in Art [Rörelse i konsten] at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in 1961, in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, with artists such as Alexander Calder and Jean Tinguely. Now it is time to investigate how artists approach motion today, beyond the mobile and the machine.
William Forsythe is a pioneering choreographer, but this exhibition emphasizes his choreographic objects. He wants to create meaning beyond what we see and to activate both ourselves and the world around us. At Wanås, he fills a room in the art gallery, sets nature in motion, and creates a new artwork—his first for a sculpture park. In Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 4, more than 400 suspended pendulums create an unpredictable environment, that the spectators are free to attempt to navigate. Outdoors, he works with trees in Aviariation, and further out in the park is a completely new work. With Underall, 2017, Forsythe has chosen to work with an abandoned house and let a gentle movement be the focus. He incorporates motion into an existing building, throws us off balance. As with so many of his objects, we gain the experience of ourselves by being aware of movement, and by ourselves being set in motion.
In the art gallery, Éva Mag has worked with clay, textiles, and metal in sculptures. For Mag, the sculptures are a potential obstacle course, built from memories of motions and thoughts about physical and mental strength. The metal objects in her room are placed so that it would be possible to move along the wall and upwards, to literally “climb the walls,” a metaphor for unfathomable angst and anxiety. In the video STAND UP!, the artist takes on the arduous task of lifting a heavy clay body from a lying down position, in a never-ending struggle. Upstairs in the art gallery, Sonia Khurana’s works include a video, instructions, and a performance, all of which are based on the prostrate body. The video Logic of Birds (2006) is the beginning of a project in which she lies on the ground in places around the world. Outdoors, a trail of Plexiglas silhouttes of bodies, lying down…ephemera III (series 6), leads the way out in the park, and in Lying listening she invites the visitor to lie down and become a temporary sculpture in a performative situation. For a live performance on June 17, visitors create a large-scale collective artwork by drawing the contours of each other’s bodies on the floor, enaction iterations of Lying-down. Khurana makes the seemingly passive act of lying down active.
On a lawn in the sculpture park, Henrik Plenge Jacobsen turns grazing sheep into art that literally walks around. The artwork brings together history and the present with references to a motif from the model farm of Marie Antoinette (1755–1793), Le hameau de la reine, alongside today’s agriculture and human relationship to nature and the landscape. Outside the boundaries of the park, Carolina Falkholt depicts travel and motion with her large-scale artwork Train of Thoughts, a 22-metre-long train car that she first painted white and since has worked on with a black line and circles. Both the train car and graffiti are associated with the city, now surrealistically it seems to have landed in the forest surrounding Wanås. The artist group Mammalian Diving Reflex leaves the site entirely to create its first performance project in Sweden. In These are the People in Your Neighborhood, children conduct tours in the nearby community over the weekend June 17–18. They describe the work as “a performance about a very possible world. It is a small slice of utopia.” Through Mammalian Diving Reflex’ participation in the exhibition, the dual meaning of movement is emphasized: a physical term and a collective action to impact social conditions. The artist group describes its work as “Ideal entertainment for the end of the world.” Their method always involves collaboration and often involves the local population as well as children and youth, as in the work Haircuts by Children, in which children run a hair salon, or a project in which strangers dance cheek to cheek.