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Time and Tide (wait for no man)

By Paul McGillick

Marion Borgelt has repeatedly been drawn to myth and ritual, exploiting what seem to be the symbols, icons, tokens and calligraphy of ancient cultures.

In particular, she has been drawn to the fertility cults and female archetypes associated with the moon and Diana, goddess of the moon. Time and Tide (wait for no man) (2004) continues this theme, and grew out of an interest in the way the lunar cycle affects people’s moods. While it doesn’t explore the dark side of the feminine like other work by Borgelt, it does share the quasi-Jungian preoccupation with how human behaviour is driven by more subliminal forces than by consciousness.

Borgelt had been intrigued by Philippe Starck’s plasma screen clock, which shows the phases of the moon, reminding us of moon-induced tidal rhythms and the implication of passing time. The sequential nature of the moon’s cycle suggested the coiled form of the work, which consists of a spiral of Gosford sandstone plinths descending in height, each with a stainless steel sphere countersunk into the top.

Borgelt worked closely with industrial designer Andrew Crick (from Schremmer Crick Associates) to create the piece, which aims to ‘warm up’ an exposed gravel-tiled balcony on Level 32 of the Grosvenor Place Tower, which boasts spectacular views over Circular Quay and Sydney harbour.

Enclosed on three sides by glazed walls and doors, the double-height void acts like a vitrina and it is possible to view the installation either from the J.P. Morgan Chase lobby or from the meeting room one level above.

Black onyx stones have been laid over the tiling and they set up a luscious contrast with the elegant sandstone plinths. The spheres are made from 10mm thick 316 marine grade stainless steel. They don’t rust, but are hard to work and have been machined out here to achieve the depressions on top. The sequence begins with the full moon and progresses through deeper and deeper depressions until it finally reaches the new moon – a ‘glass bead shot’ sphere whose texture counterpoints all other spheres.

On the one hand, the installation projects the form of some ancient ritual site, such as Stonehenge, where the elements have been arranged to express a coded cosmology. This, inevitably, implies a certain irony since it is housed in the very heart of modern corporatism and its illusory materialism. But in a formal sense, it makes a fascinating counterpoint of rhythms – whether viewed from ground level or from above – generated by the spiralling descent of the plinths with their succulent patterning and the seamlessly transforming spheres.

Paul McGillick, INDESIGN Issue 21, May 2005

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