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The sculpture Moving Sentinel by Beverly Pepper looks like a human body and reflects the movements of passers-by

Beverly Pepper
Moving Sentinel, 1987

Spectator or sculpture, who is the most present?

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Compared to her other monumental sculptures which are often set up in the open air, ING’s ‘Moving Sentinel’ may indeed be a work of art in the format of a living room. At least for anyone familiar with Pepper’s work.

For most of us, her name will not ring any bells. A female artist who works with solid materials such as corten steel using drills or chainsaws is — or rather was —against this perception. It is therefore even more worthwhile taking a look at ‘Moving Sentinel’.

What we first think of as a teetering block tower actually resembles a human body. We can make out the shape of a backbone. A human spine, indeed, through whose gaps we can see the blue glow of the enamelled interior seeping out.

Anyone who translates the sculpture’s title literally, will encounter a “moving sentry”: a paradox. Appropriately enough, the sculpture is actually often set up in a corner at the entrance to the boardroom. As befits a guard, it constantly absorbs the space. It is not the blinding material of the steel that dominates, but the reflections on the polished surface of casual passers-by.

There is therefore no lack of philosophical meaning in contemporary art.