Gloria Friedmann

Born in 1950 in Kronach (DE)
Lives and works in Aignay-le-Duc (FR)

Les Représentants

Stuffed stag, wood, moss and dead leaves
300 x 300 x 300 cm
Year of Purchase: 1993

Gloria Friedman, who has been living in France since 1977, started working as a photographer, presenting herself in disused and abandoned places. Her sculptures made outdoors from 1985 onward steered her towards a line of thinking about ‘Natural Beauty’. By actually combining the use of materials taken from nature and the adoption of a minimal language, the artist focuses on the nature/culture relations which constitute the major problem-set of her work.
Stags, deer and cattle, be they alive or stuffed, are used by her to spatialize or set ‘tableaux vivants’ or ‘living pictures’ in space, the principle behind this operation lying in the notion of ‘Representatives’.
As a result of the artist’s own powers, these animals are representatives of the divine, of the mystery embodied on earth, and as such they are summoned to lead men.
Her ‘natural readymade’ consisting of a magnificent stag, a disk of moss and a carpet of dried leaves is nevertheless markedly arranged by the resoluteness of the geometric forms which go to make it: the circle of moss, set vertically, the square of leaves on the floor. The plant matter is thus transformed into signs. This exemplary geometric rigour forms a complete contrast with natural non-organization and the symbols of freedom and energy which stags may still be.
This monumental piece represents a stele honouring things living, and the force and potency of animals; it is also a warning about straying too far away from our original bases. A monument is usually erected to glorify something human, but here it is used to pay tribute to nature. ‘I belong to the end of the 20th century, to an age of science. But as a moral being I sometimes feel a deep-seated desire to say thank you; but I don’t know who to say it to.’1
This clash stirs in the onlooker a metaphysical form of questioning which has to do with the future development of the individual in the face of phenomena which affect and upset nature. The call for (greater) awareness is one of the data of this artist’s production, if we refer to the two ‘living pictures’ recently made in Lorraine: turkeys looking at a nuclear power station and above all the encounter between some fifteen blind people accompanied by their dogs and the same number of professional soldiers against a backdrop of war aircraft.

Béatrice Josse

1 Gloria Friedmann, the Representatives, Deventer, Netherlands, Bergkerkmuseum, 1993.