Celia Eberle’s Nasher Public installation titled Waiting for Robot portends a future that may never arrive—one where the power dynamics between automation and human engineering have reversed, allowing for the rise of artificial intelligence and technology’s control over humankind.
Projecting from the wall of the gallery, Waiting for Robot’s disembodied hand—suggestive of Michelangelo’s hand of God on the Sistine Chapel—animates the movements of a coterie of spinning figures that dance to music at various intervals throughout the day. Composed of detritus and clothed in handmade and vintage costumes, the characters appear abject and downtrodden, and it becomes clear that their dancing is compulsory, rather than spontaneous. The title is a direct reference to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot—a play in which two protagonists do nothing while waiting for Godot to arrive and save them from their boredom and dread. Eberle’s kinetic sculpture group likewise serves as a reminder of the paralyzing affect anticipation has on our ability to progress as a society. Recalling an automated version of Alexander Calder’s Calder’s Circus (1926-31) or the kind of automatons found in cuckoo clocks or music boxes, Eberle’s figurines move to the music, but remain fixed in one place.
Nearby, a castle of bones titled Promise represents “escapist dreams of superior wealth, the promise of a heavenly afterlife, and a reason to keep dancing,” as the artist describes. Eberle meticulously hand carved the wall-based sculpture from cattle bones and inlaid tiny pieces of glass as windows. With its various towers, turrets, and crenellations, Promise alludes to Medieval architecture and the Dark Ages, an era marked by economic, technological, and cultural decline in the Western world. Situated alongside Waiting for Robot, the floating castle suggests that the consequences of technological advancements may ultimately lead to society’s demise.
Celia Eberle tells us about Waiting for Robot.
Celia Eberle describes how this installation fits within her broader work and interests.
Celia Eberle describes how her work fits within the current social/political climate.
Celia Eberle grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas. She received her BFA with Honors from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1974 and dates her professional career from her inclusion in Women of the Big State, juried by Lisa Phillips in 1986. Eberle began developing her theories regarding the interrelationship of behavior patterns, myth, and the persistence of images while a member of the historic co-op 500X Gallery from 1987-1992. She has had more than seventeen solo exhibits, and her work has been included in shows in Buffalo, New York; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago. She has garnered awards that include the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Individual Support Grant, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, the Nasher Sculpture Center Microgrant, the Dozier Travel Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art, and an M-AAA/NEA Fellowship. In 2014, she held a one person exhibit at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont. In 2017 she was included in Commanding Space: Women Sculptors of Texas at the Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, and To See is to Have at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio. Public collections include the Dallas Museum of Art, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, and the J. Wayne Stark Gallery at Texas A&M. She believes that, in spite of our love of technology and progress, the basic character of the human experience remains essentially unchanged.