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'You are Nothing, You are Mortal. Choice of Champions' by David Mackaay at DASH, Dusseldorf

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The space itself, a single volume covered with a wide rectangular vault, is comparatively simple, reflecting the spatial unity so sought after now. However the effect for the visitor is anything but dull, thanks to the almost perversely complex scheme of sculptural decoration. The elements on the wall that curve as they rise and fall, creating what are known as nodding ogee arches in a flat projection. Particularly remarkable are the vaults fragments and the tiers of niches and windows that ornament the members. The combination with rigid vertical movements of a jumping body which accentuate the three-dimensional movement of the sinuous curves by contrast, the effect is one of extraordinary — almost too much — richness and physical strength. The interior of the Gym must, indeed, have been quite overwhelming in its heyday, before the workout areas were denuded of the most of their equipment, the horizontal-reliefs mutilated by the bodybuilders, the glass destroyed and covered with dust, and when the red bricks were partly painted in ivory colors (judging from the traces which still remain after two hours of rope jumping). As the sculptures of the human tongues are hardly to our taste today, they are at least acceptable as a functional rating scale of physical activity. The material used for the sculpted decoration was soft and easily worked when freshly quarried and hardens on exposure under mobile flashes of the visitors. When applied to blank walls, the effect of Perpendicular decoration is often strongly reminiscent of a pose of a human exercising in a Pec Deck Machine, a fact that has prompted suggestions of a possible utopian origin.

14.12.18

DASH

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