Kelly Fliedner

riff off, OI#16238

Bob Gramsma documents spaces that once were, and that no longer are. He engages with space and how we move through it to imagine alternate histories. His works consider how space is conceived and how it might effect our consciousness of, or alert us to, the history of place. Gramsma often uses the labour of building and construction to make striking traces of the landscape. He is interested in creating works that riff off the materials of the sites they inhabit, creating sedimentary traces of production and artistic action that enable an opening between the present and the forgotten past.
riff off, OI#16238 is a site-specific sculpture and register of an excavated hole. After digging an extensive opening in the earth, a concrete cast was made to produce an inverted sculptural reproduction of the previously created void. The earth was dug up and the cast created. Later, the cast was lifted, more earth removed, the concrete shifted at an angle and then propped so it juts out of it’s previous resting place. It sits as a monumental, inverted blueprint of an excavation it now dissects. The whole left slightly open for the elements to reclaim. In an act of revelation, Gramsma uncovers another world from within. By digging through the ground, through the layers and sediments of the Kochi earth, the artist becomes archeologist, mining the site and all its contents. It takes hundreds of years for a meter of earth to naturally form. As each layer is removed, another layer of history is reveal. It becomes a space for the audience to project or reanimate their understanding of site, space and history. Through the elemental exposure of the earth, and the past that it encases, we are reminded that the earth and its history — and its cosmic forces or energies — lie outside our human intelligibility. We can try to understand or appreciate it’s unfathomable presence within time, as we stand next to it’s exhumed vestige..
Gramsma becomes the caretaker of the audiences’ relationship to history and spirit, as the object itself becomes a space for reanimating our affinity with history. riff off, OI#16238). is a tool for us to mediate on the history of Kochi and is a work for you to dream those histories. riff off, OI#16238 is a way of visualising both absence and presence. It is a sculpted ghost, or spirit, that opens up a new space for rethinking the relationship between material and memory. As you look at the surface of the sculpture and realise that it is of the ground, and that the ground is an index of history, can you create connections between your way of being in this space, in the present, and the distinct way that someone hundreds of years ago may have inhabited the same space. For thousands of years, in all our distinct ways, we have occupied, and then no longer occupied, this space of the earth. Here is a space for you to attempt to connect with these exceptional unknown and unknowable realities. 

This text was first published in: Kochi-Muziris Biennale Catalog 2016.