Diana Al-Hadid is a Syrian-American artist who lives and works in New York. Her sculptures take ‘towers’ as their central theme, drawing together a wide variety of associations: power, wealth, technological and urban development, ideas of progress and globalism. They are also – both in legends such as the Tower of Babel, and reality, such as the horrors of the World Trade Centre attacks – symbols of the problems of cultural difference and conflict. Al-Hadid’s Tower of Infinite Problems poses as a toppled skyscraper. Made from crude materials such as plaster, Styrofoam, wax, and cardboard, her structure is a monument to human fallibility. Sprawling on the floor like an imaginary archaeological find, the sculpture places the viewer in a fictional role as futuristic observer, mourning the tragic follies of a past (our current) civilization. If viewed from the end, the two parts of the structure converge in an optical illusion, creating a spiral vortex suggesting a cyclical repetition of history. Al–Hadid’s geometric forms attempt to bridge mystical and scientific understandings of the world. As intensely patterned and detailed structures, her works draw from the traditions of Islamic art, where abstract motifs are used to encourage contemplation of God’s infinite wisdom. An ‘infinite wisdom’ that is also the focus of the particle physics research being done at the Large Hadron Collider – a 17 mile tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border – where scientists are attempting to locate the “God Particle” by reproducing the Big Bang. In Self Melt the top section of the sculpture is based on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1556 painting The Tower of Babel. Presented upside down, the ziggurat becomes an inverted form, like an hourglass turning back time, suggesting a reversal of cultural diaspora. Through its rough hewn and barbaric appearance – reminiscent of a geological formation or frozen asteroid - Self Melt points to a mythological point of origin, where diversity and itsconsequences are supernaturally preordained.
Al-Hadid has described her work as "impossible architecture". All The Stops envisions a palatial structure, utilising stylistic elements from a variety of incongruous periods from medieval churches to futuristic stadiums. Shaping her work like an upturned trumpet, musical references are found throughout the piece: broken onceglorious columns are made from plastic recorders, decorative tiers are shingled with tiny piano keys. The spindly architecture suggests the evasive quality of sound, with each level contributing to a sense of harmonic rhythm. The building however, is presented as a ruin, empty and desolate, its decrepit power culminating in an eerily silent crescendo.
bronze, painted stainless steel