Friday, October 24, 2008

In Memory of Terry Fox


Pendulum Spit Bite, 1977


We are very sad that Terry Fox (1943-2008) died in Cologne on October 14.

Fox made works for many years related to the form and idea of the Labyrinth. He first visited the Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral as a young man. An essay by Constance Lewallen (which you can read in its entirety here) discusses Fox's sincere and persistent exploration of the sacred maze.

"The labyrinth, which Fox encountered in the summer of 1972, was to dominate his thoughts until 1978.

The labyrinth is made of blue and white paving stones set onto the stone floor of the cathedral. It is a unicursal path winding in thirty-four turns through eleven concentric rings to the center. It is 12.87 meters in diameter and has 552 steps following its course from the entrance to the center: Although it exists physically, on the floor of the cathedral, it is not really an object at all; it is a metaphor (Terry Fox: Metaphorical Instruments, 1982).

The unicursal labyrinth dates from ancient times and, unlike a puzzle maze, which has dead ends, it is undeviating: The center is reached inevitably. Medieval worshippers are presumed to have traced the 180-foot path of the Chartres labyrinth on their hands and knees until they reached the center, thus symbolizing the difficult progress along the path to Heaven. For Fox, the labyrinth’s metaphorical implications were stunning:

This labyrinth was a revelation to me in many ways. I had undergone cycles of health, sickness, health, sickness, with attendant hospitalization, release, hospitalization for eleven years. The thirty-four turns leading to the center of the labyrinth also corresponded to these cycles. I had just gone through a major operation that finished once and for all these cycles, and seemed to have reached the center of the labyrinth. My energies up to this point had been involved in reaching this center; and I decided to reverse this process and work my way out by basing all my future work on the labyrinth at Chartres (Terry Fox: Metaphorical Instruments, 1982)."


Listen to Fox's sound piece: The Labyrinth Scored for the Purrs of 11 Different Cats.

You can see more of his works at Ronald Feldman Gallery, MOMA, and Gallery Paule Anglim.

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