David Fried, Stemmer, No.1, 2005, acrylic and urethane, paint, 47 x 37 x 30 cm
Stemmers - Sculptures
The artist David Fried has coined the term "Stemmer" as a personifying name for stem cell creations. Currently the stem cell is the most promising yet controversial programmable self-reproducing building block on a cellular level, which in the hands of the genetic engineer has become the absolute malleable “bio-porcelain” of choice at the turn of this century.
Fried's newest three-dimensional works titled Stemmers are a series of geometrical sculptures that portray his vision of stem cell creations with a kind of prepubescent innocence. They look like young or undeveloped beings, easy to personify and almost friendly in appearance. Although there is a clear association to organic cell clusters, Fried actually follows a basic law of economy found in complex bubbles to hand-build and facet the sculpture's surface. The sharp-networked angles formed by intersecting spheres of varying size result in dynamic bubble shapes that in spite of their clean mathematical origin appear biological, and possess an abstract yet curiously personal character. Each Stemmer sculpture contains several "faces" when viewed from different angles, which easily suggest multiple abstract personalities.
If Fried's Stemmers are perceived as statues of premature invitro creations, then one must think: what might they grow up to be? Life-savers like skin or liver? Patented spare parts or estranged new breeds? His Stemmers also appear to have gender, which is enforced through their intended resemblance to figures from the stone age such as the "Venus of Willendorf", which depicts an anatomically exaggerated female form, or other phallic icons found in many Paleolithic cultures. As in many of Fried's other works, the artist presents us with minimalist symbolic imagery that suggests a fundamental shift from mythological to scientific beliefs, and calls attention to the manipulative processes that are now deeply rooted in our cultures. By resurrecting and modernizing humankind's oldest fertility icons - in an era whereby applied technologies are trumping the oldest form of reproduction and evolution - with fertility icons of a synthetic nature for future generations, Fried confronts us with our desire and ability to alter nature's course, and offers us a glimpse of things to come.
Most of Fried's Stemmers are created in solid plastics up to 2 meters tall. He recently produced a table-top-size cast edition, rendered in subtle sexy shades of iridescent pink-green or red-gold pearl, which encourages an incubated – or "Pharmed" look. Fried's Stemmer sculptures may be "bred" for beauty, but in their posture, they stand like proud representatives of their future kind.
Translated from the German text by Galerie Adler, Frankfurt
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