Descriptive Writing: Public Art

Anish Kapoor’s Descension is the anthesis of a fountain, especially more so because of the fact that it is placed in a park. Anish Kapoor’s Descension is a sculpture of swirling water that goes down to the vortex. It is installed at Brooklyn bridge park next to the river. The sculpture acts as a fountain in the park, but the interesting thing is that the water does not go up and it just keeps going down to the bottom. The sculpture has circular shape and it is a size of a normal fountain that can be found at a park. The sculpture is installed on a field of grass and there are trees around it. The form of the sculpture is very minimal, but the whirlpool makes very random and accidental shapes. The minimal form of the sculpture allows the viewers to walk around the sculpture and feel the nature. This artwork enables the viewers not only to see but they can also hear the sound of water moving. The whirlpool creates ambient sound that mixes well with the sound of the surroundings. Also, because it is made out of water, it goes well with the grass and trees that surround the sculpture. The mysteriousness of the sculpture and the formlessness of water that is brought down to its base materialism gives a postmodern sensibility that refuses fixed definition or interpretation.

This sculpture reminded me of Genesis 1:2 which says “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Descension seems to be referencing this bible verse especially in regards to the idea of spirituality embedded in the piece. But it also contradicts the bible verse as well because the focal point of the piece is the giant, powerful, man made void in the center of the piece. The mysterious and somewhat terrifying vortex looks like it is pulling down everything to the earth. The action of the water spiraling into the ground seems to symbolize the concept of life and death because all living creatures eventually return to the ground as well. In this work, the water keeps going down and the water keeps coming in like a pool and this creates perpetual cycle. I thought this resembles the order of nature because everything in the universe has a cycle of birth and death. Also, the shape of the sculpture and the whirlpool reminded me of samsara which is Buddhist philosophy. In Buddhism, samsara is endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth without beginning or end. Similar to samsara, the sculpture has no clear start or end and it is just never-ending cycle of swirling.

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