Penetrable, #1

Tomas Transtromer Literature LACMA Art BooksDuring a recent trip to L.A., a friend took me to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I was impressed by how successfully the museum incorporates inside and out, grown-up and child.

One of LACMA’s many outdoor interactive sculptures is Penetrable, by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. It’s basically a large square space with hanging yellow plastic hoses that people can walk through, and kids especially love to. My friend, who knows these types of things, told me that everyone just calls it The Spaghetti Sculpture.

To me, the piece questions the possibility of penetration in a fusion sort of sense. The kids playing in the sculpture certainly enter its space but remain separate, while the yellow hanging hoses turn into a filter between those outside and those within. By penetration, then, the original work transforms into something new, but this new being nonetheless consists of two separate elements: people and plastic.

Here, there is no fusion. The Other remains, but it is in the joining of the separate that newness arrives. I hope that this is what Soto was getting at, because it is a beautiful thought.

It is also a comforting thought to keep close while reading Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer’s poetry. Here, I do not penetrate. I merely play with his yellow hanging words, have fun with the filter they create and hope that foggy wonder is enough.

Read LACMA, 2013



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