January 16, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Ever want to sit down with, I mean, on a good book? Bill Woodrow’s Sitting on History I allows for just that. His idea was to create a sculpture that was only completed conceptually and formally once a person sat on it. Sitting on History I, with its ball and chain, refers to the book as the captor of information from which we cannot escape. All of history is filtered through millions of pages of writing, making the book the major vehicle for years of research and study.
Woodrow proposes that although we absorb this knowledge, we appear to have great difficulty in changing our behavior as a result. The artist finds books, even more so than computers, to be one of the most powerful democratic tools in the world and still possibly the most advanced form of communication. I’m going to have to sit with that one for a while.
Sitting on History I is on view at The Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, West Essex, England. The Cass Foundation is a charitable organization which operates by way of a rigorous commissioning process. Approximately 20 new monumental works are produced annually, predominantly by emerging and established contemporary British sculptors. Once a work has been placed, the Foundation splits the profit between the artist and the next commission. To date, the Foundation has commissioned 160 monumental works from over 120 artists which have been placed in public and private collections all over the world. The Cass Foundation has paid nine million pounds to British artists in order to further their careers.