I do not remember well, respectively in my memory there seems to be someting substituted, I guess it was The Angels Continue Turning the Wheels of the Universe: Part II In Which the Angel in the Red Dress Returns to the Center on a Yellow Cloud above a Group of Swineherds (1978), maybe also A Salutation to the Wonderful Pig of Knowledge (Jelly Fish, Water Spouter, … There´s a Hole in my Bucket, There´s a Hole in my Head, There´s a Hole in my Dream) (1984) or the majestic From the Series Entitled How to Catch and Manufacture Ghosts, „Collected Ghost Stories from the Workhouse“ (1980) which first attracted my attention to Alice Aycock years ago; if I would have been a child then, which I was and in the future will become, it would have given me a concept of some kind of mystery of the universe, an expression of some mystery of the universe; somewhere there are clock-like forms or eccentric cycles (as an expression/symbolisation or measurement device for cyclical/hypercyclical time (on the one hand repetetive, on the other hand coming from the unknown and progressing into infinity/entropy)) as well as the enigmatic, idiosyncratic, semi-arbitrary looking extensions give you a concept of (the ramifications of) space. I have failed to thoroughly describe it. If you´re a guy with metaphysical imaginarium inside you you will probably think of the regions located in space where the elements are or so, the metaphysical principles are expressed in some kind of form – remember Beckett who announced „Above there is light, there are the elements, some kind of light“, etc. when starting his second Text for Nothing – … and indeed there is also a piece by Alice Aycock titled The Machine That Makes the World (1979) – you may imagine that as the eccentric, accessible-inaccessible center of the universe where a strange mechanics within a strange organisation/compositional system is performed (leaving us in wonder about the idea of any mechanics and any organisation or composition per se as well)… I can only give this kind of resemblances of explanation (necessarily, because of the darkness the metaphysical naturally involves), maybe on another occasion or in some years or some centuries I can add something to it, but as I guess not actually revolutionise it, because the core of what I want and what I can say about it I have just expressed, and the final expression is/are the Machine/s it/themself/ves; I guess Alice has had the same qualities on her mind, centuries ago, and still quod erat demonstrandum
It is legitimate to say Alice Aycock is a true metaphysical artist. She gives you an impression of the ungraspable whole as well as its elements. Her sculptures are concentrates of the ungraspable whole and its elements. She emerged from the 1970s, the decade when the great (competing) narratives of what art is or should be, respectively when modern art in itself became buried or elusive, and opened space for multiple (non-competetive) styles, increasing individualisation and personalisation, reflecting an increasingly complex society within the postmodern condition. Some say: when the road was paved for degeneration – and it is true that some of the hitherto concentrated innovative power of art increasingly wasn´t that visible (or, probably, possible) anymore; but, as far as I can see now, the death of art, or loss of its greatness within „postmodernity“/postmodernism is overstated (and I hope I can soon be elaborate on that). – With her personalised, complex, idiosycratic vision she made a kind of eccentric counterpoint to minimalism and pop art. Her rejection of an authorial center may be accounted as both postmodern and feminist. That some of her sculptures can be walked on/in was in line with an extension of the understanding of how art can be exhibitioned/experienced pioneered in the 1970s from different angles ranging from the inputs by Robert Morris to Gordon Matta-Clark, and extending those understandings further into the ideas/possibilities of art as an environment. Her personal iconography and mythology puts images of whirlpools, hurricanes, turbines, vortexes at a prominent place, as well as highway intersections, war strategies and roller coasters and amusement parks — Project Entitled: „The Beginnings of a Complex…“ (1977) gives, at least to me, the resemblance of an amusement park, as well as wider allusions to architecture, man-made environment; it seems strange as well as all-too-familiar; useful and useless; harmless and frightening or dangerous; fresh, maybe futuristic as well as it gives resemblance to a ruin respectively an object (object world) which signifies its own entropy… you have a subsumption that seems to be made up of, or at least contain or signify, contradictory elements. With this method, Alice Aycock manages to give us an impression of a (unlimited) totality. In fact, Alice Aycock announces that she wants to create something that is „broad enough to display its own past, present and future“ (i.e. doing metaphysics). In fact, Alice Aycock is interested in an interplay of her artistic sculptures and environment, most notably human architecture. In fact, Alice Aycock´s sculptures have been called „nonfunctional architecture“ (by herself) that „sheds a new light on human-made environment“ (by, for instance, the Journal of the American Institute of Architects).
From early on, Alice Aycock was interested in covering as much as possible; „I want to play with history. It´s also necessary to play with science“. She loves things that are intertwined and complex. She admits she loves chaos. Alongside this trajectory she became more explicitly interested in giving her art a metaphysical touch; you have diagrams of the cosmos or the world order in Circling `Round the Ka´Ba: The Glass Bead Game (1985) or in Tree of Life Fantasy: Synopsis of the Book of Questions Concerning the World Order and/or the Order of Worlds (1990-92). One of her principle points of reference is the „tear in the universe“, a vision elaborated in a story of Borges (The Aleph) – a vision „about a half-centimeter in diameter“, hologram-like, where you see „everything that was, everything that is, and everything that will be.“ And it is true that her idiosyncratic sculptures provide such a kind of vision. In her more simple and direct pieces you have beautiful and intriguing twisters, giving us an idea of what sculpture, and the art of sculpturing can ever be.