Baldwin & Guggisberg’s ‘Walking in the Void’
Glasmuseet Ebeltoft’s summer exhibition presents the glass works of Swiss-American power couple Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. Although the exhibition’s principal medium may be glass, its intentions extend far beyond material and technique.
‘As recent global events have shown, the fragility of our civilisation has never been more apparent, and the need to find an alternative way forward feels increasingly urgent. For all our scientific understanding, we can’t help but ask if we are missing what the ancients took for granted – a sense of meaning in the universe – a way of thinking that they wove into their everyday existence? Might such an overview help us through our current existential angst and locate a path out of this darkness?’
Over the past four decades, Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg have explored the aesthetics of glass and created distinctive contemporary sculptures in their medium. Considered some of the world’s foremost international artists working primarily in glass, they are especially recognised for their mastery of battuto, an Italian technique that allows an otherwise shiny glass surface to lose its shine, and reveal the coloured layers beneath it in an earthy, matte finish.
Consisting of a series of indoor and outdoor installations specially created for Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, ‘Walking in the Void’ marks a growing shift in the couple’s artistic practice towards a focus on symbolic content and a deeply-felt engagement with the global political and environmental challenges of the 21st century. For this exhibition they have drawn inspiration in part from The Dark Mountain Project, whose manifesto (first published in 2008) called for writers and artists to “…challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality and the myth of separation from “nature…”.
The museum’s main space is dominated by several works depicting planetary bodies: the Earth, the Moon, meteor showers and comets – every one a reminder of our own insignificance. Beyond the museum space, the couple is also presenting work at Ebeltoft Church. There, a three-metre boat titled The Pilgrims’ Boat symbolises the journey of humanity generally, as well as the human urge to move on, flee, transport and explore.
The couple’s aim with this exhibition is not only to bring attention to what they think are the fundamental issues of our time – the place of humanity, and our planet, in the universe, and in geological history – but to allow viewers to wander in and experience the complexity of our local universe and their own relationship to it.
‘Walking in the Void’ is on view at Denmark’s Glasmuseet Ebeltoft until April 11th, 2021.