Arman’s School of Fishes
On display at Spiva as part of the Tools in Motion show is an assemblage by Armand Fernandez, aka Arman. The work is aptly titled School of Fishes. The “fishes” are actually vise-grip pliers and there are hundreds of them welded together. Positioned in a directional left to right flow, the practical usage of the tools fades into biomorphic eye candy. Light plays off of the chrome pliers mimicking a school of silvery fish. While the assemblage is nearly rectangular, the invisible edges of the piece are swollen and untamed. The soft curve of handles and plier heads overshadow the more empirical parts of the tools. Being in great number the pliers create a blanket of cold metal fishlike texture.
You cannot view School of Fishes and see individual vise-grip pliers. Contrarily, the pliers must be seen as one thing. That one thing moves and breathes as each “fish” is locked in a symbiotic dance with the others. The placement of each tool creates a unified image filled with slow yet forceful flowing lines of fish. A few jot up or down nearly as random as a fishes motions can seem. Rebels.
Perhaps School of Fishes is simply a fun piece and impressive only in its construction and design. But maybe this was Arman kicking in his two cents in regards to the expansion of human ingenuity. These “fish”, with exception of a few quirky strays, work with purpose and bend under one accord. And isn’t this type of pliers unusually strong for its size? These fish work as a body but function under their individual strengths. Also, rust or the absence thereof should be noted. By replicating in metal a group of animals that live in water, the sheen of the metal is relatively unspoiled by rust. Perhaps this was to simply create a silvery shine like that on a big bunch of fish. But perhaps this also is a showing of resilience. When walking away from the work the viewer is assured that the mighty fish will continue riding an invisible current.