Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Giving Birth to Art

"Darwin" Atelier van Lieshout. Cathedral Square, Christchurch. Sept.2008. Ajr
It’s very hard to take a giant 25-metre long purple fibreglass sperm – as in sculpture – seriously. I tried. Truly I did. At least this SCAPE 2008 work by Dutch artist, Joep van Lieshout from the group Atelier van Liershout (that’s him in the top photographs being interviewed by local media) makes a bold and unmissable statement. And I love that there’s something surreal and deliciously irreverent about a giant sperm colonising the ‘sacred’ ground in front of Christchurch Cathedral – especially during the school holidays. Perhaps I have a warped sense of humour but I found it very very funny that Mum’s were sitting on the sperm with their young kids eating picnic lunches. I wonder if they knew what they were actually sitting on. Intriguingly, the sculpture also doubles as an information centre for Scape – complete with attendant and double bed. Van Lieshout has worked with the human body before, creating gigantic body parts or organs, usually big enough to contain some other activity – a bar for instance, an information centre. This work, entitled ‘Darwin,’ encourages us to consider the survival of life and, installed in the so-called heart of Christchurch as it is, it acts as a metaphor for new life and the regeneration of the central city site. Of all the works in Scape thus far, it has certainly – and not surprisingly – created the most media attention. Click on Scape Biennial in the below label line to see other Scape postings. www.scapebiennial.org.nz

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