John Hejduk

The Angel Catcher

Somewhere between sculpture and prototype, The Angel Catcher comes across like a prosthetic system devised to harness the body. The work was produced in 1991, based on the drawings of Bovisa, a book about a hallucinatory Milan which Hejduk published in 1988 (together with Rafael Moneo). This almost warrior-like ornament was a formalization, among other things—machines, installations and poems—of the conceptual, poetic and philosophical approach developed by Hejduk in the latter half of his career. His projects then became involved in a form of poetic narrative where art and literature meet. Hejduk’s Masques, series on which he worked from 1979 on, are filled with fictional elements and archaic forms, among which the figure of the angel recurs, often represented diminished, crucified, and fallen. “The fall of an angel is an unhappy event and one difficult to observe”, wrote John Hejduk, in relation to the drawings showing a dead creature caught amid the spears of the Angel Catcher. Among the different readings that can be made of it, the angel appears as the visible sign of the many different possibilities which might be conveyed by a renewed architecture which, if Hejduk had his way, would accommodate within it all manner of otherness—such as art and the feminine. The crown, something at once noble and menacing, powerfully calls to mind other projects by the architect, including The House of the Suicide and The House of the Mother of the Suicide. These two architectural machines were inspired by a poem by David Shapiro in memory of Jan Palach, the Czech student who died by self-immolation, and were shown in Prague in 1991, at the request of Vaclav Havel.

Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou

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