Monday 6 September 2021

Picture Post #67 Unperturbed

by Nada Spencer *

Sculpture by Nada Spencer, 2020.

It was the first of three COVID-19 lockdowns which moved me to create this sculptural piece. 

The ropes bind tightly around the figure, thereby symbolising the anxiety we feel while facing a worldwide pandemic. Not only do the ropes wrap tightly around the torso, but they have become part of the figure, punching deeply through the skin. These ropes are the same colour as the skin, which further blurs the lines of external struggles and internal personal identity. 

The face, however, is thoughtful and calm, and not in anguish, as we might expect. This signals that, despite the pressures and struggles of life, we can retain hope and persevere. ‘Sometimes even to live is an act of courage,’ wrote Seneca, but ‘he who is brave is free.’

* Nada Spencer is a ceramicist in Cape Town.


Keith said...

‘[D]espite the pressures and struggles of life, we can retain hope and persevere’. Yes, Nada, people are extraordinarily resilient, I believe First comes the hope you refer to (which is passive); then comes the perseverance (which is active). Perhaps, therefore, a companion sculpture to the stirring one shown above would be in order. That is, a sculptural piece where the ropes are loose, disentangled, and being thrown off. A gesture of humankind having overcome headwinds, yet again. A sculptural piece emblematic of the pandemic’s long-overdue end and restoration of all which, ‘unperturbed’, expressed one’s original self-identity before covid became a global obsession.

docmartincohen said...

Thank you for sharing this image, Nada, and for your interpretation too. You mention Seneca, who I vaguely recall praised a man whose home town was attacked by an invading force, and who emerged "from the conflagration to find his wife gone, his children perished and all his possessions destroyed. Asked if he had lost anything, the man replied: "Why no, I have all my valuables with me.". My feeling is that a certain kind of stoicism is rather introverted! Maybe we NEED to distinguish between external and internal struggles...

Tessa den Uyl said...

Thank you for your post Nada. To me, that you created this sculpture during Covid-19 is not of great importance for I cannot see a pandemic in your sculpture. Which brings me to a more basic interpretation in which the idea of Self recognises a certain 'chained poverty’ we have to deal with to communicate. And then what enchains what exactly? I guess this is where the artist starts, recognising the distance and bound we have towards life from our physical form?

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Gottfried Leibniz came up with the principle of sufficient reason: nothing happens without a cause or determining reason. While the spirit of the post appeals, and its philosophical attitude to adversity, I found myself asking after the reason to 'hope and persevere'. Not that a photo-essay can contain all that!

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