White Cube presents an exhibition of new work by Antony Gormley. With ‘States and Conditions, Hong Kong’, Gormley turns the entire gallery architecture into a psychic and physiological testing ground, using sculpture to animate space and activate the built environment. The exhibition is designed to resonate within the dense urban conditions particular to Hong Kong.
Dispersed tactically throughout the gallery and its connecting stairways and passages, the works in the exhibition invite the viewer’s active projection. Using dramatic changes in material and scale, both the body of sculpture and that of the viewer are included and excluded, made solid and dematerialised, allowed to displace space but also to identify with it.
The works invite circumnavigation and are catalysts for a choreography of movement. This process is initiated by the first work the viewer encounters, Ease (2012), which obstructs the main entrance from the street. This massive iron ‘Blockwork’ sculpture suggests an awkward occupation of the gallery architecture, and encourages an awareness of our position in space and time.
Murmur (2014) is a large-scale multiple ‘Space-Frame’ that fills the entire ground floor gallery. Derived from Form (the life-size crouching ‘Blockwork’ sculpture installed in the room directly above), its dimensions have been translated and expanded outwards by frames which challenge the containing architecture, allowing the viewer just a small passage between the surrounding walls and the void contained inside this ‘frame-field’.
Several new sculptures occupy the transitional spaces of the building. The half-scale ‘Blockwork’, Small Prop III (2013), sits near to the front desk. Strain II (2011), a steel ‘Liner’ work, maps the space of a body using a singular unending loop installed high up on the stairwell wall. On the first-floor landing, a vertical and horizontal line made from the same steel bar as Strain II, bisects the space, interrogating the rules of architecture that physically order our environment. These linear works suggest a larger, hidden connective system such as a building’s plumbing or electrical circuitry but equally, recall the interconnected nervous system of a human body.
The upstairs gallery space is occupied by Form (2013), the crouching iron ‘Blockwork’ that is the seed-form for Murmur on the ground floor. Like Ease, the ‘Blockwork’ attempts to reconsider the body as a building; anatomy has been replaced by stacking, propping and cantilever, to form a static but dynamically unstable whole.
Two more ‘Liner’ works, Secure (2012) and Transfer (2011), are installed in the upper corridor and library. One animates the junction between wall and ceiling, and the other hangs like the exposed filament of a light bulb. These sculptures are interferences in the ordering of architectural space and the systems that consolidate it.
The final space of the exhibition includes three works that continue his investigation of body and space: Gut XIII (2010), a vertical ‘Blockwork’ that uses the architectural metaphor of the body as a building to full advantage, suggesting the body as an unstable high-rise with the potential of imminent collapse; Place II (2014), a life-size stainless steel ‘Expanded Framer’; and Reserve (2013), a hermetic, sealed tank that contains a similarly expanded body-space to Murmur, here made as a dark, invisible, still, sealed and waiting void.