Alice Aycock

Untitled Delight (Wavy Enneper)
April 30 − Juni 25, 2011

Coinciding with this year’s Gallery Weekend Berlin, Galerie Thomas Schulte will open the exhibition, Untitled Delight (Wavy Enneper), by American sculptor, Alice Aycock, on Friday, 29th of April 2011, from 4 to 9 pm. The exhibition is Alice Aycock’s second exhibition with the gallery.

Alice Aycock is one of the most influential and inventive artists of her time. Starting her career in the lively art scene of New York City in the early seventies, she must be seen at the helm of a number of women artists breaking the lines of male domination in visual arts. At the same time she belongs to a young generation of artists like Gordon Matta-Clark and Robert Smithson who question and paraphrase the technological and positivistic attitude that western civilisation had taken on. They try to open up an alternative view of the world beyond that, while at the same time dealing with the traditions of architecture, science, and the arts.

The Wavy Enneper is a three dimensional visualization of an abstract mathematical concept derived from equations by Alfred Enneper. As such it is a rational attempt to visualize a theory. The form itself appears to reveal an underlying organic structure analogous to that of a flower, an insect, or some undersea creature. It has a strong iconic presence and it is interesting precisely because it is a three dimensional realization of a form that exists as a mathematical theory. In the landscape it gives the impression of something that has arrived as an extra-terrestrial – a kind of galactic flower or spaceship that alights on the surface of the earth. It has a strong formal architectural presence but is generic and non-specific.

The new drawings for the Berlin show developed out of thinking about a diagram called “Sum Over Particle Histories” that describes the physicist Richard Feynman’s theory that subatomic particles can travel on an infinite number of paths through space-time. Moreover, these particles have the potential to go forward as well as backward in time. This inspired the artist’s fantasy that there might be an infinite number of paths in a lifetime from birth to death and that one might be able to go back in time and live a completely different life.

As such the drawings offer a theoretical counter to the mathematical and rational certainty of the wavy enneper. The enneper is a clear concise form albeit totally theoretical which attempts to give structure to nature. The drawings explode that theoretical certainty. In a sense the wavy enneper could be the space vehicle in which one surveys the wreckage of all attempts to understand with rational thought. It is an architectural folly that offers a brief refuge from the constant attack of random disorder. The enneper is seductive and tempting but ultimately illusive and unattainable.

The drawings allude to an infinite number of pathways travelling back and forth in time – parallel lives, intersecting timelines, dead ends, major events, random couplings, chance encounters be they man-made or natural – that have chaotic unpredictable outcomes – all encoded in ribbons of movement interspersed by gears and blades and vortexes of energy. In the drawings from the series, entitled Sum Over Histories, each of the intersecting configurations have been overlaid on a different terrain – a bombed airfield, a semi-circular city in the desert, the surface of Europe (one of Jupiter’s moons), the polar icecaps of Triton, one of Neptune’s moons, the mountainous surface of the Pacific Ocean devoid of water. These are possible terrains over which the inhabitants of the timelines wander. But the narratives underlying each of the timeline configurations cannot be deciphered. They are deeply encoded and ultimately remain secret. They can only be imagined.

“But perhaps,” Alice Aycock says, “the configurations of lines are really nothing at all – meaningless scratches on a wooden floor, random tracks of tires in the snow, the paths of a tractor after a wheat field has been threshed, or the momentary, intersecting patterns of air movement as the fluttering of a curtain in the breeze encounters the last breath of a dying man. Perhaps the configurations are simply traces of the countless markings of ephemera.”