In the year 1999 Magdelena Abakanowicz installed her 6 Female Figures. They stood installed in the Jardins Du Palais Royal, together. In a group they all look similar, but on closer inspection they are all different. Each has its own distinct curves and organic qualities, shaped by the hand of the artist. The figures do not reference hard tools or machinery, rather they expose the softer parts of life. The soft bronze sculptures are not made to be like permanent monuments. Abakanowicz claims “the shapes I build are soft. They conceal within themselves the reasons for the softness.” (258) they are like a malleable toad, with organs and skin. The frog seems squishable and impermanent. The sculptures also look pliant, with no hard defined edges.
The 6 Females are not momentary. They are part of the world, and eventually they will perish, like everything else in the world. The females are like the thoughts of the artist. The materials of the sculpture will disappear, and the ideas, her thoughts will still be there, but they too will disappear. The material contains the ideas of the Abakanowicz. They are a part of her. At the same time they exist independently. They are the ideas of the artist projected in to actual space. Independently, without the artist, they have no meaning. With the artist they are significant, they have ideas behind their creation and a life that has created them. The sculptures and the artist exist together, and create significance together.
Rather than a linear existence, the female figures reference a balloon of existence. They exist in the balloon of Abakanowicz. They exist in their own space and time, but also in their creator’s. They are like humans. Both are organic. Their individual motions are unrepeatable. When in a crowd they all become similar and less distinct. Their singularities become muted. The soft parts become less notable. They develop a hard shell. A human being turned into a crowd loses his human qualities. Abakanowicz describes “A crowd” claiming it “is only a thousand-times duplicated copy, a replication, a multiplication. Among such a great number one person is extremely close and at the same time terribly distant” 260 the soft parts of the crowd and the females must be found on closer inspection. Getting closer to the sculpture each particular nature becomes more notable. The shell disappears. The sculptures of Abakanowicz expose this time based, soft malleable human nature, but they also expose the hard shelled existence in large groups. The figures are soft as individual pieces, but together they are a hard force, and they lose their individuality.
– Chloe Brown