Category Archives: Sculptures

The Stillest

A few notes while writing about Moments Contained, the sculpture of Thomas J. Price that will be installed at Rotterdam Centraal Station in June 2023.

Her glance and the soft imprints of her unclenching fists make me think about stillness. Hers, ours. And, how powerful it is to make time for stillness in the midst of chaos. Or, as Toni Morrison taught us, as a response to it. Seeing her, this beautiful praise to pause, in a space that’s so synonymous to sound, busyness and haste, is poetic. It’s a beauty we often miss or rush past because have been made to believe that stillness is a waste of time rather than a part of it. Relearning to not just value our sounds and to also recognize ourselves when we’re not presented in a spectaclized forms, requires imagination. Often, we need something to build our imagination on so bless the hearts of artists who, when considering how to portray us, choose our Quiet. Decisions like this require vision and care. And, tenderness because even without her plint, it takes more than craft and an eye for carefully laid babyhairs to make a 4-metre-tall girl represent relatability. Especially if that relatability is a subtle, ever so clever method to not just critique but to refuse these eurocentric links between scale, materials, form and importance. With his most recent work Moments Contained, British sculptor Thomas J. Price offers us ourselves in one of my favourite forms of rest: unbotheredness.

I’ve never let my abilities to function (dare I say ‘ride’) at dawn confuse me into thinking I’m a morning person. Yet, I’m excited about waking up before sunrise, making my way to Rotterdam Centraal Station, sitting on something that isn’t the floor and enjoy my tea as the sunrise finds its way to Moments Contained. At the risk of being misidentified as a Notep I can honestly say that yes, this excitement can absolutely be traced back to my decade-old fascination with sphinxes facing the sunrise. What delights me about Moments Contained are the reconsiderations she offers. Who deserves to not just have their representation but also their shadow claim a grander-than-human space in our public domains? Who deserves certain scales, certain materials? And, what happens when a 4-metres-tall statue of a Black person has a name that offers no introduction or disclaimer to this Blackness?

Sculptures and statues that are not just of but are also made by Black people, make me think in maps. They make me wonder what a mapping of Black presence in Western-Europe would look like if with ‘presence’ we mean ‘architecture’. Or ‘art in the public domain’.

I’m thankful for the (re)considerations Thomas J. Price’s work offers us and I’m excited to write about it for this wonderful, Rotterdam based art institution. More info soon.