Permanent shift: the topology of Didier Vermeiren's Cariatide à la Pierre

Robb, Charles (2014) Permanent shift: the topology of Didier Vermeiren's Cariatide à la Pierre. In Garnons-Williams, Victoria (Ed.) Photography and Fictions, Queensland Festival of Photography 5 Conference, Queensland Centre for Photography (QCP), Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and Queensland Centre for Photography, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 53-58.


Photographic documentation of sculpture produces significant consequences for the way in which sculptural space is conceived. When viewed as discrete mediums the interaction of the photograph and its sculptural subject is always framed by notions of loss. However, when taken as a composite system, the sculpture-photograph proposes a new ontology of space. In place of the fixity of medium, we can observe a topology at play: a theory drawn from mathematics in which space is understood not as a static field but in terms of properties of connectedness, movement and differentiation. Refracted through the photographic medium, sculpture becomes not a field of fixed points in space, but rather as a fluid set of relations - a continuous sequence of multiple ‘surfaces’, a network of shifting views. This paper will develop a topological account of studio practice through an examination of the work of the contemporary Belgian sculptor Didier Vermeiren (b. 1951). Since the 1980s, Vermeiren has made extensive use of photography in his sculptural practice. By analysing a series of iterations of his work Cariatide à la Pierre (1997-1998), this paper proposes that Vermeiren’s use of photography reveals patterns of connection that expand and complicate the language of sculpture, while also emphasising the broader topology of the artist’s practice as a network of ‘backward glances’ to previous works from the artist’s oeuvre and the art-historical canon. In this context, photography is not simply a method of documentation, but rather a means of revealing the intrinsic condition of sculpture as medium shaped by dynamic patterns of connection and change. In Vermeiren’s work the sculpture-photograph, has a composite identity that exceeds straightforward categories of medium. In their place, we can observe a practice based upon the complex interactions of objects whose ontology is always underpinned by a certain contingency. It is in this fundamental mobility, that the topology of Vermeiren’s practice can be said to rest.

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ID Code: 82874
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Topology, Contemporary sculpture, Sculpture-photographs, Vermeiren, Didier, Photography and sculpture
ISSN: 9780992322533
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500) > Lens-based Practice (190503)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Charles Robb
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2015 00:46
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2015 23:57

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