This sculpture, executed in galvanised iron with rivets in the construction, was shown at the Plymouth Art Centre and the Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo in 1989, and then in Hanover (1993) on the occasion of the presentation of fourteen sculptures at the city’s Kunstverein. It is a piece that formally refers to a woman’s skirt, which, according to Deacon’s own instructions, must always be placed with the interior facing a wall, as if to prevent us from seeing what is taking place inside. As in so many other pieces by the artist—though in this case perhaps more obviously because of the formal similarities referred to—the organic character of the sculpture contrasts with the constructive solutions and with finishes that never seek to conceal their industrial origin. The dialectic between the clear, diaphanous exterior and the hidden, uncertain interior is even more crucial in this case, and the formal result takes on an almost sensual corporeality despite the constructive complexity, a defining feature of Deacon’s sculptures. This execution process has led the artist to say that he is a ‘fabricator’ of sculpture. He does not sculpt or shape his works; rather, they are the result of many sequences and combinations of repeated actions, such as cutting, folding, nailing, riveting, sewing, and so on. For Deacon, foregrounding the construction of the sculpture is a way of referring once again to the presence of the individual: the creator and at the same time the receiver of his pieces. The title, in addition to alluding to possible formal similarities with a skirt, reflects the importance Deacon places on language, which he believes offers us one of the first meanings that enable us to act on the world, to recognise it and give it form. The titles of his sculptures serve as a way of expressing his interest in language. He has said the titles are sometimes a kind of cliché in which the meaning of the phrase is different from the meaning of the words. In other cases a twofold allusion is set up: to possible formal similarities (as in the case of Skirt) and to some particular subject. The title, as Deacon would say, serves to make a less than evident assertion in the work more obvious. He is interested in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus and in Symbolism, from which he takes this twofold use of language—literal and symbolic—in order to lend his sculpture different levels of meaning.
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