Commissioned through SculptureCenter’s Artist-in-Residence program, this will be Gallaccio’s first solo exhibition in an American museum.
Born in Scotland, Gallaccio lives and works in London, and is well known in the United Kingdom for her site-specific work with temporal materials. For one art, Gallaccio will fell and disassemble a tree and then reconstruct it with all the engineering required to support it visible. The tree, a weeping cherry killed when contractors erroneously cut its root system, will reach into SculptureCenter’s fifty-foot-high clerestory, virtually filling the space with its branches. Viewers will enter the space under its branches and will only be able to apprehend the full tree when standing at the far end of the gallery fifty feet away.
The title of the work is borrowed from an Elizabeth Bishop poem whose subject is loss and the unlikely possibility that we might master it through artful practice. one art is a tree as assisted ready-made, building on the art historical tradition of landscape and grappling with our desire to believe in an untamed nature.
Gallaccio said of this project: “The history of sculpture has been a dialogue with material and matter. In making a proposal for the SculptureCenter, I considered this tradition and wanted to make a “proper” sculpture, a work which is determined by the physical matter of the tree as material, a work that considers both gravity and grace.”
In one art, Gallaccio’s aesthetic act is to move the tree from its normal outdoor environment to an urban industrial building adapted as an exhibition space. Yet the process of disassembling and rebuilding the tree transforms it – drawing attention to the extraordinary formal and structural properties of the tree.
Anya Gallaccio’s sculptures and installations are made in response to specific spaces and are often made from mutable materials that have limited life spans such as cut flowers, ice, chocolate, grass, basalt, and fruit. She first received widespread recognition for her installations with flowers, such as Red On Green (1992). For this work, Gallaccio created a carpet of 10,000 red rose blossoms on a bed of thorns. Other projects have involved gigantic blocks of ice that melt over the course of the exhibition or candles that burn and melt, transforming the work in the process.
While many of her works have a formal relationship to minimalist sculpture such as Carl Andre’s floor pieces or Richard Serra’s lead works, her work is more concerned with the momentary than the monumental and emphasizes the physical and temporal nature of sculpture, appealing to our senses of smell, hearing and touch. The project at SculptureCenter furthers Gallaccio’s interest in forestry. Recent projects involving trees include beat (2002), a commission for the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, in which Gallaccio responded to the British landscape tradition with a sculptural installation of oak tree trunks placed upright in the gallery like rough hewn columns.
SculptureCenter’s Artist-in-Residence program was initiated in 1987 with an installation by Petah Coyne. Artists who have participated in the program since then include Robert Chambers, Charles Goldman, Rona Pondick, Beverly Semmes, Olav Westphalen, Ayse Erkmen and others.