The Sirens / Die Sirenen, 2011

In a private collection in Switzerland;

Black African Granite and Stainless Steel; 197 ” x 41 ” x 105” (500 x 105 x 265 cm)


Please click on any individual image below for expanded view / slide show.

Die Sirenen /The Sirens

The spirit of movement, the wind, desire, was often represented as a bird with a human head. This is a metaphor of imagination, the desire to soar and to realize, to bring into the world what our mind conceives. 
The power of the Sirens in the epic “The Odyssey” shows the beauty and the danger the sirens represent. They have the power to seduce and transfix. Ulysses is fully aware of the human willpower needed to resist the summons.

There is a beautiful stillness behind everything and as a living, engaged human consciousness our callings are tempered by the reflective presence of this stillness. In order to step or go forward we must know the place from where we step, otherwise we descend into chaos and madness.

In my sculpture titled “The Sirens”, I represent these ideas in the form of four archaic Greek figures sourced from standing archaic marble carvings. These known and existing carvings have clothing and hairstyles that I am utilizing to represent the four cardinal positions of the compass. In my sculpture I reduced the front of these life-size figures to a flat, two-dimensional surface, mirror-polished stainless steel.

The backs of these figures are fully articulated in their archaic style. They are in the traditional posture of the stepping figure, the left foot slightly forward, indicating deliberate forward moving potential. These figures are standing in a row. They hold their individual space, but are a united front. This arrested moment or movement represents the engaged stillness, the state of wonder, grounded on ten tons of black granite, a block showing the evidence of being taken from the earth and placed on the earth.

Granite, unlike marble, is the very core material of the Earth itself. The front of this block is stepped and polished to reflect the water of the lake and mirrors the viewer in the location. The front of the figures, being silhouettes, can be perceived frontally as a figure stepping forward or receding, stepping away. Going out into the world and coming back in order to reflect. 
The Sirens overlooking the harbour act as a metaphor: The “going-out” to engage with the world, the public act and the call of the safe haven, the harbour, the private place of reflection.

The arresting sound of the siren on an emergency vehicle causes us to pause and wonder, to take in where we are at the very moment in relation to the sounding call. The experience is a kind of reflection of position. The word “siren” and its implication of danger echoes back to one of the foundations of western culture, Greek literature. It is a reverberation in time – bringing the past into the present.

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Bus Shelter in Halifax with retroActive poster!
Thinking Back to Gertrude and Henrie, 2015
Installation View retroActive with Threshold, 2015; Civilization, 1990/91; PaperMoney, 2012
Wait of Water by John Greer, 2014 Bay of Fundy Detail of Wait of Water, October 9th, 2014; retroActive tied up, tide down, looking back across the bay where the piece was first realized in 1972
National Gallery of Canada : THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
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© John Greer