M+, Hong Kong, © Estate of Charlotte Posenenske. Photo: M+, Hong Kong
A few years ago, M+ invited landscape architect Sara Wong to plan and execute a special configuration of Charlotte Posenenske’s modular sculptures. Posenenske always envisioned that her work would be repeatedly assembled in various shapes and configurations, according to the display space or architectural context. We asked Sara to reflect on her experience of working with Posensenke’s components at the M+ Pavilion in 2019.
I think to me, the core thing about her work, which I found fascinating, or attracts me, is the design of modules. But at the same time, she opened up the interpretation of these modules to other artists, other people, or the audience, which means that it liberates the interpretation of the work. Imagine that the same element, the same piece, the same material has been touched by the artist before, and then I touch it and then I change it, and then I transform it. That is a very special connection between me and the artist.
Faced with so many modules and possibilities, Sara began by thinking about the piece not as a cohesive entity, but rather as its individual components.
When we understand module design, we always see modules as part of the whole. So, we put modules together to form one entity or one piece. But, I started to think that, can we see module as its own self, with its own identity? And I started to think more and more now that when we are always seeing modules as only part of a whole thing, but indeed, each of the modules, if you put it in a different situation, if you're connecting it in different way, indeed, they can be read differently.
Once all of these individual modules were installed in the space, back in 2019, as Sara looked round them, they took on even more characteristics.
One memory is there is a piece which is lay on the ground on the floor. The first time I can look through it and can see the light being transferred through the material, and then I can see the light from the window, but from the inside of the sculpture, I can see a little bit glowing of the light, I can hear the ambient sound which was something that I cannot experience when I was working in the model, you have to see it from the real sight.
The way the modules are displayed at M+ today is very different from Sara’s arrangement, but you can still explore them in the same way: take some time to move around the space and see how the individual sculptures interact with it to form this new iteration of Posenenske’s work.
The title of this work, a 1967 installation by Charlotte Posenenske, is Series D Vierkantrohre, which means ‘Series D Square Tubes’ in English. The work in the M+ Collection is a re-creation of the original, made in 2014. It consists of 16 modular units with six designs. The medium includes hot-dip galvanised sheet steel and screws. The dimensions of the work and the number of modular units displayed vary depending on how the units are assembled in the display space.
The modular units are standardised components of different designs. They can be put together in different ways, forming different shapes according to the curation or the characteristics of the display space. After assembly, the work looks like a rectangular ventilation duct of silver colour. The duct can stand alone on the floor, it can be attached to walls and ceilings, or it can be suspended in the air. For example, the modular units can be assembled to form a U-shape that stands on its turning point and has the height of an adult. They can also be configurated to look like a chimney that runs up a wall, or a ventilation duct that appears to run through a wall by putting two separate ducts on the opposite sides of the wall.
The six designs of modular unit are cuboid-like tubes in different shapes and length, with vertical or angled cross-sectional ends.
The designs include: first of all, the ‘Rectangular Tube’, which is a long cuboid tube with rectangular openings at both ends. Second, the ‘Square Tube’, which also has a long tube design, but with square openings that are twice as wide as the rectangular ones. Third, the ‘Cubic Tube’ is a shorter version of the previous design that is cubic in shape. Fourth, the ‘Transition Piece’ is a short trapezium tube with a square opening at one end and a smaller rectangular opening at the other end, which serves as a connector between a Rectangular Tube and a Square or Cubic Tube. Fifth, the ‘Angular Piece’, is a short tube that has the shape of a triangular prism that allows the connecting units to change in angle by 45 degrees. The sixth and the last design, the ‘T-piece’, is a short tube that has three openings that point towards the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock directions, allowing the connecting units to split into two branches.