Marin Kasimir

Town Hall

Marin Kasimir’s most recent public sculpture, La Place des Miroirs (The place of mirrors, 1994), is at once a summation of much of his work of the past ten years and a bold new development, recontextualizing familiar elements. Commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture as a project to be situated outside the new Town Hall in Issoudun, it succeeds where many works of public sculpture fail as it is perfectly integrated into its surroundings through its choice of materials and its invitation to the public to experience it physically. It also, however, questions some basic assumptions about public sculpture, resisting simple integration into an esthetic whole.

The work is constructed as a kind of labyrinth, made of mirrors, glass, metal, and anthropomorphic letters. The latter element is a perfect indication of how Kasimir makes the viewer an active part of the work. The letters themselves are largely composed of images of members of the local community. The form each takes refers to a particular letter in the town’s name, for example, a diver in the form of a u or two hands joined together to form an s. The only letter that is absent is the i, which is provided by the spectator, as he or she walks through the work and sees his or her figure reflected in the mirrors. By physically moving through the space, the spectator animates and completes it, making it an object of passage rather than one of static contemplation.

Three elements which have figured prominently in much of Kasimir’s work are the panorama, the bench, and the trompe l’oeil. Each, of course, can be seen as a means of involving the spectator in the explication of the work: the panorama through the use of lateral vision, the bench as an urbanistic form that proposes a certain point of view, and the trompe l’oeil as a refinement of the viewer’s vision, a reminder that the view is a construction, not a given.

One can easily see how these concerns have been translated into La Place des Miroirs. While Kasimir’s work has certain affinities with cinema, primarily in terms of a kind of montage, it is characterized by an investigation into horizontal, as opposed to perspectival space. This sculpture not only requires the viewer’s physical presence, but an active looking, one that traverses the object, translating and synthesizing its various components.

Michael Tarantino