Sculpture and the Sense of Place

Jakob Due Lorentzen 1
  • 1 Aarhus University, , Aarhus, Denmark


This article proposes a direction—inspired by a reading of Heidegger’s reflections on sculpture— in which thinking enriched by artistic experience can unfold an alternative mode of being-in-the-world. Heidegger points out that, in contrast to a scientific understanding of space as an empty container, the special character of space in sculpture is characterized by a clearing-away (Räumen), which presupposes and points to an open, receptive attitude toward experience that is necessary for dwelling to take place. From Heidegger this article proceeds to reflect on artworks by Eduardo Chillida and Janet Echelman. These offer concrete examples of how a thinking of sculpture can apply to different notions of place. While Chillida’s sculptures present a sense of place as rooted and embedded in the landscape, Echelman’s artworks explore an expanded notion of place through a multisensory sense of immersion. Applying Heidegger’s meditations on Räumen, it turns out that the differences between these artworks are of greatest significance in illustrating the breadth of the experiential space that they share: an openness to dwelling and a receptivity toward being-in-the-world. In this way, Heidegger’s reflections on sculpture are unfolded in a contemporary context and the potential of sculpture for a thinking of experience is established.

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