a tale of a few cities

5,000 Free Limited Edition Artworks To Celebrate Elmgreen & Dragset’s Trafalgar Square Sculpture Unveiling

Posted in Art, artists, collecting, collections, limited editions, multiples, pictures, Public Art, Sculpture by petercombe on February 23, 2012

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LONDON, Feb. 23, 2012 —  In collaboration with s[edition], a digital platform for collecting contemporary art, Elmgreen & Dragset invite visitors to experience ‘Powerless Structures, Fig. 101’, the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in the virtual world using augmented reality.

For the first time, visitors can further engage with the Fourth Plinth commission, which is funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England. They will be able to access exclusive content via the s[edition] iPhone app. When devices are pointed at the sculpture’s plaque, users will receive a three-dimensional rendering of the sculpture, along with unique footage of Elmgreen & Dragset presenting their work.

The artists have also collaborated with s[edition] to create a digital limited edition artwork celebrating the commissioned sculptureDesigned to be viewed on digital devices from iPhones to televisions, the limited edition features a unique digital rendition of the bronze sculpture on the plinth. To commemorate the unveiling, s[edition] will offer members of the public the chance to own one of 5,000 limited editions, worth £35 each ($55US), for free before 5pm GMT on Friday 24 February 2012.  The editions are limited to one per person and can be accessed via here.

Michael Elmgreen said: “The internet has created possibilities for experiencing artworks in a totally different way. You do not need to be there in a physical sense at the location to actually get an impression of the work. So it broadens the possibilities to reach other audiences apart from the people in Trafalgar Square.”

Ingar Dragset stated: “When we developed the sculpture itself in a 3D format, we used the computer as well as a tool. It is a big part of most artists’ working process. What you see with our s[edition] limited edition is the computer manipulated sculpture turning around, with the blue sky in the background, and it loops endlessly.”

Martina King, Managing Director of Aurasma, said: “This ground breaking collaboration with s[edition] brings digital art to 3D life, augmented into the real world.  People will be able to use the simple tools in the app to add a 3D model of the artwork to their homes, offices gardens – even the street.  We’re delighted to see Aurasma’s unique technology being used to change the way people see and interact with art using their mobile devices.”

Commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by the Arts Council England, Elmgreen & Dragset’s new sculpture for the Fourth Plinth was unveiled on 23 February 2012 in Trafalgar Square, London. Entitled Powerless Structures, Fig 101, the artwork features a 4.1m high golden bronze sculpture portraying a boy on a rocking horse with his right arm thrust high in the air.

Available for iPhone and Android smartphones, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition technology to seamlessly blend the real world with interactive digital content called “Auras”.  Auras can be created for images, objects and physical places. Users can even use the simple tools in the app to create and add their own Auras to the world. A 3D version of Powerless Structures, Fig 101 will be available on the Aurasma platform for users to place into the real world, view and share.

The Sacramento Bee

Thursday, February 23, 2012
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UPDATE, February 24, 2012: As it is now past 5pm GMT on Friday 24 February 2012 Limited edition art work is now priced at $56USD.
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Elmgreen & Dragset’s Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 Unveiled

Posted in architecture, Art, artists, Installation, Photography, pictures, Public Art, Sculpture by petercombe on February 23, 2012

Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset have become the latest contemporary artists to unveil a public sculpture on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth. ‘Powerless Structures, Fig. 101’ depicts a classically proportioned young boy atop a flat rocking horse.

The plinth, built in 1841, was originally designed to host a bronze equestrian statue of King William IV designed by architect Sir Charles Barry.  Organisers said that, after 170 years, “Elmgreen & Dragset have completed the process by presenting a new take on the tradition of equestrian statues, directly engaging with the history of the plinth itself”.

Michael Elmgreen (Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (Norway) are a collaborative artist couple who live and work together in Berlin. Their work often takes the form of a wittily subversive intervention or mise-en-scène. They are critical of contemporary art institutions, and restrictive viewing of the white cube viewing space. The duo have held solo exhibitions at galleries including the Serpentine and Tate Modern, in London, and The Power Plant, in Toronto.  As a duo, the artists – who will exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in autumn 2013 – are known for works including Prada Marfa, a full-scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert.  

Although I like Elmgreen & Dragset’s work, I wish Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s proposal had been chosen. Their’s featured a working cash machine embedded within the plinth which, when accessed, would have triggered a functioning pipe organ set on top of the plinth, to play throughout Trafalgar Square.

Elmgreen & Dragset’s Powerless Structures, Fig 101, replaces Yinka Shonibare’s large-scale Nelson’s Ship In A Bottle.

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[youtube http://youtu.be/watch?v=dLGj7lxwjNk&w=720&h=450]

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Ai Weiwei and the Five Finger Discount

Posted in appropriation, Art, auction, China, Conceptual Art, illustration, London, Painting, Sculpture by petercombe on July 19, 2011

Detail of Ai Wei Wei sunflower seeds from the Tate Modern in London

For the eleventh commission in the Tate Modern‘s Unilever Series, Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei had filled the museum’s Turbine Hall with millions of life-sized sunflower seed husks made out of porcelain. The collective effort of a number of specialists from Jingdezhen, China, the hand-crafted seeds were individually formed and painted. Before the museum was alerted to the installation’s dangers of lead paint and silica dust, visitors were encouraged to touch and walk on the carpet of tiny replicates. Before a barrier was erected around the perimeter of the installation, I wondered how many visitors were tempted to pilfer samples of the tiny seeds (see photo above). In February of this year Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in London surpassed the $192,000 estimate, netting $559,394 for a 100-kilogram pile of Weiwei’s seeds. That puts worth of the stolen seeds pictured above at about $33.60.

Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds

Posted in Art, China, Installation, Painting, Sculpture, video by petercombe on April 8, 2011


‘Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds’ video is beautiful and moving. It sheds light on the thought process behind the project, part of The Unilever Series at Tate Modern, UK. The porcelain seeds were made in a town called Jingdezhen. All 100 million porcelain seed husks were produced by craftspeople, many of whom had previous to Weiwei’s employment, gone bankrupt.

I saw the installation during a recent trip to London, but was saddened that previous to my visit, viewers were no longer able to walk amongst the display due to hazardous toxins. The tons of porcelain seeds were kicking up a fine ceramic dust, easily breathed into the lungs of art aficionados. Visitors can now only gaze at Ai’s piece from a cordoned off observation deck.

Ai has not been heard from since he was seized on April 3 at Beijing airport about to board a flight to Hong Kong. The U.S. and EU have protested his detention.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s call for the Release of Ai WeiWei >

Tate Modern’s message via @robbiesharp >

Tate Modern, The Unilever Series: Ai Weiwei

Posted in Art, Installation, London, Sculpture by petercombe on February 8, 2011

The Unilever Series: Ai WeiweiSunflower Seeds, 2010

I’m going to London in a few days for a couple of weeks and am looking forward to seeing Ai Weiwei’s installation at the Tate Modern. Sunflower Seeds, made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.

Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.

Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seedsinvites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today. More at Tate >


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