Use of Space

Richard Serra

Born in 1939, Richard Serra’s sculptures have been seen around the world often taking up whole gallery space for his large-scale productions.In 1966, Serra made his first sculptures out of nontraditional materials such as fiberglass and rubber. Serra’s earliest work was abstract and process-based made from molten lead hurled in large splashes against the wall of a studio or exhibition space. Still, he is better known for his minimalist constructions from large rolls and sheets of metal. Many of these pieces are self-supporting and emphasise the weight and nature of the materials. Serra’s site-specific works often challenge viewers’ perception of their bodies in relation to interior spaces and landscapes, and his work often encourages movement in and around his sculptures.

Circuit Bilbao 1972 (picture from google images)

Four large sheets of hot rolled steel have been tailor–made to fit in to four corners of the gallery space. At the center of the artwork is an opening. The structure’s scale and physical presence dominates and divides the space. There is nothing else, just the four large metal plates.

Serra has said that he is interested in making sculpture that has no obvious function. It is the context of the work that interests him. Its scale and its structure make us alert to the architectural space in which it stands. Each defines the other.

The Consequence of Consequence 2011 (picture from google images)

Two eight and a half ton steel blocks stand opposite each other. Both have sides of identical length. But Serra has placed the two blocks in different orientation. Because of this they play tricks on us. We imagine their proportions are different. They look as though they might even have differing weights and volumes. There is a seemingly endless series of ways in which we can view and try to understand these works. It is as we consider these things that we become active participants in the sculptural project. And we react physically to the work: it is as though there is a force–field between the blocks.

Serra has created a work that is hard to define. It has nothing to do with the human figure, and it does not represent anything we can easily recognise. It forces us to look beyond imagery that we can readily understand and identify with.

Àngels Ribé

Born in 1943 in Barcelona, Ribe was considered one of the most important Catalan conceptual artists of the 70s. Ribe’s work, contextualised in the conceptual art of the late 60s and 70s, utilised nontraditional material, which she gradually discarded to concentrate on the ephemeral–light and shadow–and the location of the body in space.

6 possibilities of occupying a given space 1973 (picture from google images)

Use of space is in much of Ribé’s work. Whether in photography, installation, film or performance, the relation with space is essentially established through the artist’s own body.

Bilbao’s Use of Space

Looking at how Bilbao use’s its city space is interesting. In our short stay in the city, I do not recall ever seeing a park, ie grass and fields with swings etc for children. But there were parks with swings for children……just small and concrete surrounding.


Pictures by Jason Kurmoo

Buildings also used every inch of available space, never any gaps between buildings, whether an old building was connected to a new building or not. And when a building had apparently reached the end of its life, it appears to just get ripped out leaving a gaping space ready for the next building to be built.

Pictures by Jason Kurmoo

Considering how the city use’s space on top ground, you suddenly realise there are no outdoor car parks and again Bilbao uses this space by putting the car parks underground and some supermarkets too! I also noted that car and bike showrooms were all indoor with no display vehicles outside, utilising all possible space within the city.

Pictures by Jason Kurmoo