We raise our hands to ask a question, cast a vote, shield our eyes from the sun. As we block the sun with our hands, we also block the light from the earth. In A Circle Full of Ecstasy at Leipzig’s Spinnerei, the artist Edgar Leciejewski shows 77 leaders with their hands raised to greet their citizens.
Sixteen years ago, Edgar started an archive of press photos. He put them in files labeled “with children,” “laughing,” “crying,” etc.
The photos chosen were in a folder called “hello.”
Besides the fact that they are all world leaders and waving, there was a need to connect the images in some way, since they were all from different photographers at various points in time. Edgar chose to do that in the printing process. He chose cyanotypes because that was the way flora and fauna were printed in early books.
When you look closer, you will realise that they are all waving with the same hand. From the beginning to the end of the series, the bodies of the leaders are revolving and the eye zooms in and out. You will also notice that the hand is in colour.
Edgar chose to use 77 images because of the significance of the number. It features in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It is also to be found in numerology, science and history. He felt it the correct number in which to display leaders.
And then there’s Chantal.
All alone and larger than life (245 cm x 182 cm) is the Cameroonian dictator’s wife. During a famine, she graciously agreed to buy two fewer handbags that year. Instead, she would donate that money to feed the starving. If you or I were to do that, it wouldn’t feed anyone for long, but her favourite designers are Dior and Chanel. The bags on their website start at €2000.
In the centre of all these leaders, we find the little people in the form of Edgar’s Rocket sculpture series.
In 2014, he spent 6 months on the island of Newfoundland. He got there in winter and there was a bed of ice leading out to the ocean. When it started melting, he saw the beach was littered with debris.
Locals told him it was all from one house which had not been in the trash collection system until the 90s. Along side the glass and ceramic that had survived time, there was a large selection of teeth from various animals. This had also been the site where animals were slaughtered.
He collected what he could and started making “rockets.” “At some point, we will send our trash into space, right?”
As a collection of sculptures, these pieces tell the story of the people who lived there.
There are old and newer bits of ceramic. Some even repeat the same pattern, showing how it stood the test of time and tastes. As a North American, I saw lots of things I recognised. As Edgar looked at the pieces and showed me special bits, I could tell he was longing to go back to Newfoundland.
The sculptures, like the waving world leaders, connect time and memory. They tell a story of human existence. Some things repeat. Some things are long forgotten. All are circular.
“The Sufis say every single man is a planet, turning in a circle full of ecstasy. But I say every single man is a sentence of different molecules, turning in a circle full of ecstasy. In the near future one will be able to make used things new again, reconfiguring their molecules.”
A Circle Full of Ecstasy
23 April -10 June
Rundgang Sat 29 & Sun 30 April