Where do you end and I begin?
Marek Cecula’s exhibition titled Interface at Garth Clark references the perfect, seamless union of two people enmeshed to the point where individual identity is dissolved. Observed en masse, Interface recalls a display of exquisite archeological artifacts. Employing a call modernist aesthetic that erases any possibility of sentimentality, Cecula presents refined and idealized porcelain cast sculptures of body parts associated with human communication—speaking, hearing, touching, seeing. He displays them on elegant birch blocks that are labeled with engraved brass plaques, indicating the title of the series, the set, and its number in the edition. The style of these tags suggests a memorial inscription, while the information given is reminiscent of a museum label, documenting a significant historical phenomenon; in this case, the artist provides us with a type of iconographic marker that evidences human intercourse through the ages.
Cecula’s sculptures serve a dual function: they act as symbols of human interaction/communication and also as tools to facilitate the viewer in achieving a sense of actual interface. Slightly larger than life, some of the casts are hollow, like Egyptian sarcophagi. They invite one to imagine placing one’s own body in the open-ended, container-like spaces, and in this way the sculptures become vessels of empathy. Like a figure in a Casper David Friedrich painting shown with his back to us before a magnificent landscape, the viewer quite naturally steps into that setting and inhabits that body, so to speak. Here, Cecula affords us the opportunity to imagine ourselves in a state of unified bliss.
The most arresting subject for this transference was a set of three pairs of cast “gloves.” In this series, the cast vessels look inflated, with rounded edges alluding to the human presence that would fill and animate them. One glove of each pair does not sit flush with the surface beneath, but rises almost pneumatically, enhancing the idea of it as a portal for energy. Each pair of gloves is joined seamlessly at the three center fingers, to make one flowing channel between the two. In profile, the channel forms an S-curve much like an infinity symbol. Smooth, matte, and pore-less, the gloves are in a sense generic, a stand-in for every and any set of hands, while their interiors are of brilliant gold, asserting the sacredness of that which is exchanged over the mere conduit it flows through, and allusion to the metaphor of our bodies as simply vessels for our souls. Inordinately graceful, they poetically represent the notion of two becoming one and create a universal symbol of intimacy.
Stripped to the essentials, Cecula’s body of work offers much more than mere poetic waxings about romantic love or physical intimacy, but poignantly proffers a notion of the eternal, the possibility that the energy created and shared between human beings lasts.
ContributorSuzanne De Vegh