Alex Selenitsch: Two Cuisenaire Works
TWO CUISENAIRE WORKS
'…"works on paper and Cuisenaire-type objects” writes Penny Webb of my forthcoming AGORA show, in the (Melbourne) magazine, July 2013, p49. Having never actually made any, I decide to do so. I cajole some Cuisenaire rods from colleague David O’Brien, who thinks twice about it, but then gives me a shopping bag full. The rods are blocks and rods of one centimeter width and one to ten centimeters in length, in different colours, representing whole numbers and used for teaching numeric operations.
I make a set of works involving a series of numbers, using mixed colours. The idea for the long stick comes first. Rulers and sticks have become a side industry for me, and I constantly think of Ruark Lewis’ black and white sticks, like flood markers in river crossings on country roads; also the sticks of Andre Cadere (and now also Peter Robinson and Karl Wiebke). Being arithmetic, the Cuisenaire pieces ‘demand a number’. I try over a thousand, and 1111 becomes the number of the stick. A series evolves, with 222 next, then 33, then 4. The series then stops: there is no way that a ‘non-5’ can be realized, or even written. But at the other end, thanks to a suggestion after the series had been completed, by another colleague Greg Missingham, there is a quasi-conceptual 00000 which is given substance through five cubic holes in a small sheet of Perspex.'
Alex Selenitsch is a Melbourne-based poet and architect and an Honorary Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, University of Melbourne. A survey of his work, LIFE/TEXT, was held at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne in 2015-2016. His most recent books are LOOK! (Cordite), a book of multipage concrete poems, and a re-write of Dante's Purgatorio, called Purgatorio Re-placed (Life Before Man/Gazebo Books); his most recent exhibition was The Language Factory, at the Dulux Gallery, Melbourne School of Design installed during the 2021 lockdown.