A sphere of white plaster
is lying on a plate inserted into a cylinder-shaped pedestal of plexiglass.
The glass in the lower part of the “pedestal” sustaining the
sphere is colored, the glass in the upper part surrounding the sphere
Pedestal is here put between quotation marks, because traditionally a
pedestal ends where the sculpture begins. When it, like here, continues
beyond the sculpture /sphere and ends above it, it is as much a cylinder
or case as a pedestal. It is also shaped in a way that distinguishes it
from a traditional pedestal: it is circular, not square or rectangular.
It is consequently difficult to maintain the distinction between pedestal
and sculpture, which is not an uncommon phenomenon in modern art of sculpture.
It is more natural, perhaps, to perceive this work as a simple and harmonious
whole, but where one figure is emphasized more than the other. A light
placed inside the lower part of the pedestal gives off a shining circle
around the sphere and projects it as the focal point of the work.
A machine controlled by a timer is placed inside the cylinder. It rotates
the sphere one time around its own axis in the course of the sidereal
year it will stay in the room. This is a rotation which is not visible,
and which takes place as 177 tiny movements per day, that is to say approximately
two millimeters per 24 hours. The timer is adjusted to a satellite in
order to give absolutely correct time.
The entire cylinder is placed on a circular plate which is 120
centimeters across, and which has the following text:
Sphere and Sphere.
This sphere rotates around its own axis once per sidereal year. A sidereal
year is the time it takes the earth to travel around the sun once (365,2564
days). The sphere was placed here 6 pm on the 26th of November 2000, and
will stand here for one sidereal year.
Kurt Johannessen 2000.
The text is necessary for us to perceive the sphere as a moving object,
and one that connects the earth traveling around its own axis - through
the plaster-sphere’s movement - with the time it takes for the sphere
to do the same rotation. The sphere standing on a sphere unifies the passing
of a year with the passing of a day.
A characteristic feature of many of KJ’s performances is his use
of the absurd as artistic means. The same means is used also here, if
not as openly. There is, however, something clearly absurd in creating
movement that cannot be detected, let alone putting a lot of effort, special
competence and high-tech into creating something that eventually no one
And yet, what we witness in Sphere and Sphere revolves as much around
fascination; fascination with time and space and scientific precision
that can produce movement that is as impossible to detect with the naked
eye as our own earth’s movement around the sun.
Time has figured in KJ’s work also before, expressed through balls,
circles and slow motion like in the performance Ogo from 1993 where 18
snails were placed in a circle on the floor. KJ was lying in the middle
of the circle and slowly rotated his body around. He performed the same
slow circular rotation in the performance Seventh Journey from 1999, this
time with his head on a pillow of “plaster-dust” in the center
of the circle. It took two hours for the body to complete a 360 degrees
The slow movement has often been a means in KJ’s art to make us
aware of the temporal aspect in his work. It has, however, been a bodily-visual
manifestation where the temporal dimension has been implicit in the work.
It has been the responsibility of the spectator to see this. This is different
in All from 2000 and in Sphere and Sphere. In both these time is deliberately
thematized: in All through text, in Sphere and Sphere through the relationship
between text and form that evolves into interplay between substance, light,
and transparency. Harmonious form, created by geometrically oriented shapes,
gives beauty to the cyclic regularity of the day. This regularity is lifted
out of factual simplicity and matter of course and instead turned into
an object of wonder and reflection.