At the moment on the 3rd December 1967, that Louis Washkansky's heart was removed, Professor Christiaan Barnard stared, for the first time, into an empty living human chest cavity. In later accounts of the event he recalls that “at that moment the full impact of what I was doing hit me". That open chest cavity, came to represent potential, hope, faith and perseverance. It was this notion that inspired Marco Cianfanelli's suspended sculpture Threshold.
The sculpture is an archway, the threshold where the arrangement of 75 linear plywood profiles represents the incremental expansion of the moment in time where the impossible suddenly and dramatically becomes possible. Modelled on the form of a human heart, each of the profiles individually describe the subtle organic complexities of the cardiac chambers. Collectively, the profiles resolve into an archway that suggest an anatomical form, or an interior biological chasm.
Along the sculptures' opposite axis, In contrast to its undulating forms, are the linear slices of vacant space, that express both the enduring skeletal structure of the rib cage, as well as the amplified unfolding of the crucial moments between one heart's removal, and the other's insertion. In this regard, the sculpture is both form and space, representing the transitional moment between states of existence. The threshold contains a space in which the linear flow of time is suspended in a moment of veiled potential.
Rippling out from the immersed forms of the heart, are the waves of its final heartbeat. The organ's last burst of life, as chillingly recorded in Louis Washkansky's electrocardiogram, fell to flat inactivity while the surgeons prepared to insert the donor heart. In that moment devoid of any heart activity, the patient's life was sustained and monitored by machines. The gentle ripples in the plywood structure suggest the waning of one source of energy, and simultaneously, the latent potential of another.
As one journeys through this extended verge, they are invited to experience the awe and reverence of the moment in which Barnard, for the very first time, brought life back to a man whose heart had perished.