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Richard Serra | Equal

The Museum of Modern Art recently added Richard Serra's "Equal" to its collection. The 320-ton sculpture is composed of four pairs of precisely forged steel blocks, stacked and arranged in a square. In this short video, Serra describes the material processes and conceptual concerns that shape this ambitious work.

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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    Other than wanting something tactile, why did he make these? Seems like something tactile could have been produced much more efficiently, and safely, than these if that was all he was wanting.
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

I'm a sculptor that's interested in the invention of form. I'm not primarily interested in the invention of images. If you're interested in the invention of form, you have to understand where it came from, how it developed, how people put things together. When I first went to the forge I asked if they could hammer the edge of the cube down to less than 10 millimetres. They'd never forged anything this large before with any kind of exactitude. I wanted it as tight as possible. They said, "OK, you do it." They put a helmet on you with a hood. And it's a very thick asbestos suit that you're in. You look like you're going to Mars. And you have very big, high boots on and your pants are covered, and your legs are covered, and you have big gloves on. And they put you in this bucket. It looks like a little caged square, with a hook on the door so you can open. And the crane's about 80 feet overhead. And then the crane operator - you give him a signal - and he moves you into position in relation to the block. And then you take the right angle and you put it right up against the block so you're facing the block and it's white hot. It's very, very hot. Now, at one point I looked up at the crane operator and I thought, "I hope he knows what he's doing." I think there's something about this piece that I've wondered about: It's that we're so far now in this century into virtual reality, where everybody reads images through the virtual. That's one of the big problems that art confronts right now - in fact, probably we all confront - is that the virtual denies tactility. It denies your physical presence in relationship to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images - we receive information through images - that we don't receive art through our total senses in terms of walking, looking, and experiencing, and touching and feeling. And that's kind of been lost. That's not to say it's not going to come back.