WALKING IN THE VOID
WALKING IN THE VOID
PHILIP BALDWIN & MONICA GUGGISBERG
This year’s major summer exhibition, ‘Walking in the Void’, directs our gaze towards the challenges of our age and the place of humanity within the geological story of the universe. The artists behind the exhibition, Philip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg, rank among the elite of contemporary artists working in glass.
In their solo exhibition Walking in the Void the American–Swiss couple Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg turn their attention to some of the fundamental issues of our time – the place of humanity, and indeed our planet, in the universe, and in geological history – and set them within the context of the challenges facing us today.
The artists say: ‘As recent global events have shown, the fragility of our civilisation has never been more apparent, and the need to find an alternative way forward feels increasingly urgent. For all our scientific understanding, we can’t help asking if we are missing what the ancients took for granted – a sense of meaning in the universe – a way of thinking that they wove into their everyday existence? Might such an overview help us through our current existential angst and locate a path out of this darkness?’
Through four decades Baldwin & Guggisberg have explored the aesthetics of glass and created distinctive contemporary sculptures in their medium. Considered some of the world’s foremost international artists working primarily in glass, they are especially recognised for their mastery of battuto, an Italian technique involving the cutting of the surface layer of the glass to reveal coloured layers beneath. The exhibition at Glasmuseet Ebeltoft marks a growing shift in the couple’s artistic practice towards a focus on symbolic content and a deeply-felt engagement with the global political and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Walking in the Void consists of a series of indoor and outdoor installations specially created for Glasmuseet Ebeltoft. Dominating the museum’s main space will be a labyrinth of steel rods criss-crossing the gallery, representing the twelve signs of the zodiac and, set within them, Earth, the Moon, asteroids and planets. Viewers can wander in and experience the complexity of our local universe and their relationship to it. Other installations include a giant shower of meteors and comets – a symbol of the catastrophic events that intermittently punctuate Earth’s history and remind us of our own insignificance; a slowly swinging pendulum representing the fourth dimension, Time, and an eight-metre-long parade of artefacts exploring civilisation’s trajectory since the end of the last ice age.
The Pilgrims’ Boat
The presentation of Baldwin & Guggisberg in Ebeltoft also includes a three-metre boat (The Pilgrims’ Boat), which will be shown in Ebeltoft Church. The boat, exhibited in Canterbury Cathedral in 2018-2019 as part of Under an Equal Sky, is filled with 32 blown and cut glass amphorae symbolising the journey of humanity generally, as well as the human urge to move on, flee, transport and explore.
The Pilgrims’ Boat can be seen in Ebeltoft Church – everyone is welcome. Address: Grønningen 2, Ebeltoft.
Philip Baldwin was born in 1947 in New York, USA. Monica Guggisberg was born in 1955 in Bern, Switzerland. Baldwin & Guggisberg have been working as a team since 1980. For twenty years their studio was in Switzerland, before they moved to Paris in 2001. Since 2015 they have been based in rural Wales, enjoying a view over the hills. The work of Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions, including in Canterbury Cathedral, UK (Under an Equal Sky), the Musée Ariana in Geneva, Switzerland, Museum für angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany (Au-delà du verre), and Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. Their work is installed in public and private spaces throughout Europe and the US, and is represented in collections around the world.
The exhibition has kindly been supported by:
Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond
Knud Højgaards Fond
15. juni Fonden
The Robert Weil Family Foundation
Monica Guggisberg and Philip Baldwin. Photo: Alex Ramsay
Walking in the Void, installation view, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft. 2020. Photo: Christoph Lehmann
Meteors for our Time, 2020. Photo: Alex Ramsay
The Pilgrims’ Boat, 2018 (installation photo from Ebeltoft Church).
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