Cast Iron, Forklift
120 x 77 x 86 inches
Courtesy of John Micheal Kohler Art Center (Art/Industry) and Kohler co.
Thanks to Marta Tiege, Dave Ertal, and the others at Kohler Cast Iron Division for their help and support.
Pieta consists of a 1000 lb cast iron figure, draped in a reclining pose, and supported on the tines of a forklift truck. This work was created at the Kohler Cast Iron Division Foundryworks as part of the John Micheal Kohler Art Centre Arts/Industry Program in Kohler/Sheboygan Wisconsin.
Twelve large resin-bonded sand moulds were required for this casting. These were made over plaster, plastic, and fabric patterns originally adapted from a life model. The resulting ductile iron pieces were assembled and rough-finished. The completed form was rusted to suggest an accumulation of history over an exaggerated passage of time. The Forklift truck needed to support this form is directly implicated in the structure of the iron object. In its weight-baring areas, the metal fabric appears to yield to the specific pressure of the forklift tines. Their location beneath the figure, draped supine over their length, is revealed by the iron folds.
The conceptual interdependency of an industrial vehicle and a sculptural form is as important as their pragmatic relationship in this work. The posture of the iron-draped figure is that of the classical Christ, resting in the arms of the Virgin Mary after the deposition from the cross. Here, Mary's presence is invoked by the forklift that bares her markings of iconic blue. This vehicle evocatively performs her roll; cradling a supple body, cloaked in iron, its metaphorical arms.
This relationship coopts both the utilitarian vernacular of industry, and rarified languages of art history and religion. It binds these disparate entities together into a single and necessary whole. Its resulting purport relates to the utilitarian underpinnings of faith, the common denominators of power, labour, and sustenance, and the inescapable porosities of function, form, and effect.