MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique is very pleased to present Birdsong, by Sanford Biggers. On this occasion, writer and curator Alayo Akinkugbe wrote the following text to accompany the exhibition.
Weeks ago I ambled alone
through the ancient site of the Acropolis
and its eponymous museum
There I saw marble in myriad forms:
carved, mounted, shiny, matte, expansive, miniscule,
in alto and bas-relief, as stand-alone sculpture,
but primarily fragmented, broken,
Weeks later, I am contemplating Sanford Biggers’ Tiresias in the presentation, Birdsong.
Tiresias, in Greek mythology, was both blind and clairvoyant,
lived as man and as woman
and had the powers of a soothsayer:
interpreting birdsong to predict the future.
Biggers’ Tiresias evokes the ancient and contemporary,
a synthesis which the artist repeatedly deploys
in his oeuvre to reconfigure, question and offer alternatives
to how we view that which we conceive of as familiar.
Rosso Cardinale marble is alive, in my eyes,
by comparison to the beige, off-white Pentelic marble
of the ancient sculptures which I saw weeks ago.
Should white-ish marble be read,
in accordance with art historical tradition,
as a symbol of purity, sanctity and cleanliness,
then Rosso Cardinale is severely polluted.
Biggers’ Tiresieas, carved from this stone, is almost visceral;
with burgundy skin and pale veins
pulsing across the sculpture’s surface.
As T.S. Eliot’s Tiresias declares in The Waste Land,
he is ‘throbbing between two lives’.
With a head – hair, lips and eyes – which reminds me of family
(a clay bust of an uncle I never knew)
Biggers’ Tiresias twists my understanding
of the appearance of a Greek mythological figure.
I am reminded of the never-ending possibilities
that the manipulation of marble can yield;
the various, atypical ways in which
the image of a Greek “god” may be formed.
It is this which lures me repeatedly, deeper
into the practice of Sanford Biggers:
the marriage of the familiar and the unexpected,
the layers of meaning and feeling to be unearthed
the longer that one spends with the work,
which he offers generously to our interpretation.