Enigmas; Hans Haacke’s ‘Condensation Cube’ 1963-1965, re-enacted by Raquel Macartney, filmed by Huw Macartney. Performed in ‘2053 : A Living Museum’ Tate Liverpool on 21st February 2016
Raquel Macartney re enacted the work ‘Condensation Cube’ by Hans Haacke earlier this year. Wearing white trousers, a long white loose cardigan with an attached piece of flowing bubble wrap covering her chest over her turtle neck top, whilst wearing black elasticated dance pumps-, Raquel was visually trying to mimic the Haacke sculpture made in 1963-65, by becoming a living sculpture so to speak. Tate Liverpool invited members of the community to re-enact artworks from their collection touring Europe of contemporary artists work, provoking questions such as ‘What would we do to take responsibility to keep the memory of artwork alive if art no longer existed as we know it today, in the future? What would a living museum look like?’
In just under ten minutes, Raquel performed at the back of the Tate Liverpool’s gallery space, and moving around the floor along the perimeter of her own created invisible 4 metre by 4 metre (on average) square. The artist made bold and exaggerated movements as if combining Yoga, Pilates, Tai chi and free flowing improvised and abstract movements, alluding to the condensation perhaps that immerses within Haacke’s perspex cube, situated on a black steel plinth. The gallery temperature itself is set specifically so as to create the science of the condensation happening inside Haacke’s contained space, and of course this temperature fluctuates depending on the number of viewers sharing the gallery space with the art piece itself.
The performance piece was performed silently and yet simply. The artist identified herself with water and at times, camouflaging with the gallery space environment as well. The only other noticing movements were the artist’s dancing shadows and her breath which changed in momentum from one minute to the next. If you were to look closely to examine what looked like an easily executed performance, in reality was more likely tough and enduring, especially with trying to maintain some of the ‘tree’ or ‘warrior’ poses known as positions of the body held for a length of time to focus on balance, concentration of the mind, fixing the gaze and breathing control.
The artist looked very much at peace and collected in her mind, yet you could sense the tensions which kept the artist moving only within the confines of the invisible square, referencing the trapped water particles within Haacke’s cube which, when observed slowly and carefully was a living art piece in itself alluding to the world and structures of society or institutions that we live in. Perhaps Haacke’s work along with Macartney’s re-enactment, can be seen as a metaphor for life and our bodies that have certain constraints but still have the freedom to move free flowingly in its unique and varied environments… This is a spiritually provoking, visually enduring and poetic work.
Digital images: Works from February – July 2016 courtesy of artist, Marcin Sz and Ilona Zielinska
Top left: Re-enactment of Condensation Cube, live performance. Top right: Know no Bounds, sculptural video installation. Bottom right: Transcendence, live performance. Bottom left: Debris by Day, Debris By Night, working progress of sculptural installation