Jaume Plensa (Spanish, b. 1955) produces large-scale sculptures and installations that use language, history, literature and psychology to draw attention to the barriers that separate and divide humanity.
In Talking Continents, Plensa used stainless steel to create a floating archipelago of 19 cloud-like shapes. The biomorphic forms are made with die-cut letters taken from nine different languages that refuse to come together as words, existing instead as abstract forms, and also arbitrary signs and signifiers. Many of the suspended sculptures appear as orbs or islands, while others include human figures in pensive, vulnerable postures. The sculptures speak to the diversity of language and culture, but also gesture toward global interconnectedness as a path to tolerance and acceptance. Visitors are encouraged to tap into the artist’s notion of universal understanding by thinking about the ways in which we are linked together as a collective humanity.
Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents was organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Generous funding for Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents has been provided by the David and Paula Kraemer Fund; Ellen Rosner and Paul J. Reckwerdt; Mary Ellyn and Joe Sensenbrenner; Peggy and Tom Pyle; Gina and Michael Carter; National Guardian Life Insurance; Lynda and Charles Clark; Dynee and Barney Sheafor; Sara Guyer and Scott Straus; Karen and Craig Christianson; and RSM.
Jaume Plensa, Talking Continents, 2013, Stainless steel, 19 components, dimensions variable, Installation view, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, & Co. Photography by David Nevala.