One of the few non-figurative sculptures in our exhibition. Dr Arie Hartog wrote the following about it: "The basis for the large sculpture Land is the undulating skyline of a mountain, which is transformed into curved steel. Such a form, originally found in nature, results in a clear, transparent structure that encloses space inside it. " A brief summary of what can be seen and a very important comment: this non-figurative sculpture is indeed based on a 'figurative' experience.
Land, (2009), stainless steel, Axel Anklam, 300 x 210 x110 cm, private collection artist
The outward form that refers to the landscape was not the only reason this sculpture was selected. After all, each sculpture acquires new meanings when part of the larger ensemble of an exhibition. The material used and the manner in which it is applied were just as important for our choice. The form's transparency makes its shape less definite. Transparency emphasises the role of light, which does not just fall on or against the sculpture, but also shines through it in several places. This creates a distinction between 'construction' – those places where the light encounters impermeable pipes – and 'space' – the places where the light is filtered, as if though through a veil. The stainless steel veils that are fitted between the pipes make the light diffuse, which sets it apart from the flat gallery wall behind it, and from the invisibility of the space. This means that a new space has been created within the space in which we find ourselves, a space which is partly determined by the structure and partly by the filtered light that interacts with the space around the sculpture.
You could contrast the concept of a veil to that of skin, which is not the same, because a veil is always more or less translucent and skin is not. The veil drapes over the head and covers the face like a shroud, while the skin is a closed material that covers the structure - the head and skeleton. In this sculpture we can see hoe these two functions, of a veil and skin, occur simultaneously, because it is both transparent and material, without concealing the underlying skeleton.
In this way, Axel Anklam makes a single subject out of two of the most important properties of sculpture - the surface and the spatial effect. In order to view it properly, we must walk around the sculpture, constantly discover new spaces, which are confusing when they overlap each other translucently. While we move we therefore constantly gather new insights, which also echo each other confusingly. At the same time we become aware of our own body, with its non-transparent skin, as a delimited space that can be present in the surrounding area but not in the sculpture itself. The interior-exterior interaction and the impossibility of accessing both simultaneously are emphasized by the uninhibited playfulness of the light.
The German word for monastery, 'Kloster' and the English 'cloisters' both derive from the Latin 'claustrum', which means 'enclosed space'. This monastic environment highlights the spatiality of the form even more than the deliberateness of the veil, which the woman uses to cover herself and makes herself unrecognisable, while she herself is still able to view the world around her. (Christian nuns wear a habit, but not a veil.) Areas are identified by the visual delineation of partitions and walls, or a transparent partition between indoor and outdoor spaces, as is the case here. From this perspective, the sculpture is a symbol of the transparent skin and the enclosed space of the monastery, which interacts with everything beyond its confines. Naturally, the filter works in both directions. The fact that the sculpture is made of steel and recalls the later industrial function of the monastery building may be purely coincidental.