David Chalmers Alesworth

Work on “Fermi’s Pile”, 17 Jan. 2009


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Working amongst the small metal workshops of Lahore’s Lakshmi Chawk area.

Stack of 30 units, from a total of 180 units.

The units are identical but also quite distorted from the heat of the welding. The proportions, 14 x 14 x 28 inches somehow work interestingly with the scale of ones body, why? I investigated other sizes and ratios to arrive at this. Is it the scale of a pet? child? what one can hope to pick-up unaided, something to do with one’s span? I realize these are very much the concerns of early minimalists, like Caro, who was once Henry Moore’s protege. The idea of span and of being body-scaled are terms that could be right out of Moore’s own mouth. Though such concerns are readily discernible in ancient Egyptian sculpture, canonical works.

Is it not possible to make a perfect, quiet cube in Lahore? I think I welcome the “wobble” that sign or life. It’s the imperfection that makes the energy flow.

I’m facing problems with the zinc plating process. I want the zinc plate not only as protection from rust or as an aesthetic surface, though I want both of those qualities too. I chose it for the link to the last two bodies of work I’ve made (objects), the “Probes” and the “Trays”. These deliberately turned away from the aesthetic of “Truck Art” and other high visibility urban craft items in Pakistan. That strategy well played out by now, though I might well re-visit it. I want the link to a more domestic space, the kitchen. The zinc plate is the language of milk-churns, baking trays, funnels and jugs. There is a strong reference to the making, but they are also somehow, proto-industrial. Retro-tech, almost industrial.

Much of my reading over the last decade has been about the origins of nuclear technology and weaponry. I’ve made work that addresses the bulbous, toy like proportions of early nuclear weapons. (Two Bombs Kiss).