Headstander
Wieviel Stücke? (How many Pieces?) was assembled in at Haverford College in April 2002. It is an arrangement of eleven life-size plaster figures. The figures stand in a room 25 feet square. Sand covers the floor, unifying the figures. The grouping evolved in stages from 1994-2002 It is here presented in its final version.

The various pieces were formed from an initial figure. This matrix figure, The Shade, is floating in from the left rear in the current arrangement.

Later, this figure was stood up, resulting in Mr. Confidence, uncertainly standing in the center.

Several more variations were made, A Piece of String (picking up a piece of yellow string) and Help Me! (on the ground with his arm uplifted).

A preliminary grouping of five figures was shown in 1996 at Drexel University as part of the Interfaith Council of the Holocaust conference.

This sculptural group is not a Holocaust piece. It is a set of figures dealing with modern life and modern circumstances. And yet I believe that the Holocaust was the most significant event in our lifetime. In my opinion we are living in the aftershock of this experience, and it profoundly washes over us, effecting us in many ways, not all of them good. Progress and Enlightenment still seem to be over the horizon, mired in the dark.

Various individual figures in this set were made over the last five years. They include Shelfman (in the back left on his shelf), Headstander (rear center), Candlelighter (at his altar), The Reflective One (with his mirror,), Shattered (shocked, falling figure), Beggar/Thief (in corner) and Burrowman (Fetal Joe) (in fetal position).

To me these figures speak of the world in which we live. A weight sits upon these figures, each in a different way. It appears in their detachment, in their exhaustion, in their nonchalance, in their numbness, etc, etc.

Yet, perhaps there is also a presence of the Comic, in the old sense of the word, in its Ancient sense.

The title, Wieviel Stücke?, comes from Primo Levi's book, If this is a Man. Primo Levi was a great human being. He had the ability to empathize.
Copyright © 2003, Christopher Cairns.