10 May 2009

Homage to Equivalent VIII

20090510 BHW Pile of sleepers 2

The bridge of railway sleepers over a small stream under the transmission lines in Pond Wood became unsafe, so the Highway Authority has started to repair it. The sleepers have been carefully stacked by the path and they immediately reminded me of Carl Andre’s sculpture Equivalent VIII, usually known as the ‘pile of bricks’. This was exhibited at the Tate Gallery several times and in 1976 became the subject of an “is this art?” controversy.

Andre also did much work in wood as these sleeper-like chunks show:


And he worked for a while as a brakeman and conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, so a photo of railway sleepers seem even more appropriate as an homage to him.

I suspect if I had not been exposed to Equivalent VIII from time to time I would not have seen any great significance in a pile of sleepers. It seems to me that this is one of the most important aspects of art: to enable one to see things from a different perspective, or to appreciate things that would otherwise have seemed unremarkable. (What an incredibly unoriginal thought!)

It would be nice if the sleepers could remain where they are to inspire other passers-by, but I expect they will be taken for firewood or to make a raised bed in someone’s garden.

There is a link to a map showing where the sleepers are here.

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