This Is Rigged
Alex Calder has got a room to himself at the National Gallery of Art.
Men with glistening sunburned heads come herding children to the center, a collection
of wacky animals. They turn their attention up and out, to pieces
in the air; they think their kids could do as well. But the mobiles exercise
a perfect balance: arcs of steel hang by a thread, graduated
triangles dangling from the spines like guitar picks, moth wings, hearts seen
at an oblique angle (still, nonrepresentational).
But here, a fish spangled with colored glass; there, a man’s head
of twisted wire. The sculptures drift and spin on thin
strands, their duplicating shadows moving with them—
light and dark, heavier and slighter, big,
or smaller. They flatten and telescope;
they intrude, wheel across the body.
I’d open my mouth to them. I
feel as a baby must:
her mom rigs a mobile
and leaves the room,
to keep her