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Mass (Colder Darker Matter), 1997

Cornelia Parker


Parker conceived of and created Mass during a residency at ArtPace in San Antonio, Texas, in 1997. Inspired by science and news events, Parker considered visiting NASA in Houston as a starting point for her project. However, shortly after arriving in San Antonio, she read about a Baptist Church in nearby Lytle that was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. She obtained permission from the church to gather the charred remains, which she then suspended from the ceiling with thread and wire to create Mass.


Parker’s arrangement of larger pieces in the center of the composition with the smaller elements radiating out creates at once the illusion of a cube and an explosion suspended in time and space. The large installation has a flat, pictorial quality when viewed from the front, like an abstract black and white painting. Viewed from an angle, the square architectural form becomes apparent, giving the work the paradoxical and haunting aspect of both a solid and a void. Parker has used the word Mass in the first part of the work’s title to allude to the mystery of faith, destruction and resurrection, while Colder Darker Matter refers to a scientific term, cold dark matter, used to describe the "unquantifiable" in the universe.


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Taken on July 10, 2007