monumenta(l) – anish kapoor

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Anish Kapoor, Leviathan, Grand Palais: Monumenta (courtesy designboom)

‘A single form, a single object, a single colour’ – this is how renowned Indian born, British-based artist Anish Kapoor describes his latest workLeviathan for the 2011 Monumenta at the Grand Palais, Paris (11 May – 23 June), a 120 x 35m interactive sculpture composed of 4 semi-transparent PVC spheres.

Monumenta – now in its 4th year – invites prolific artists to interpret the vast space of the Grand Palais’ nave with a site-specific, interactive artwork. In the past, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra and Christian Boltanski were invited to create works for the monumental space.

And Kapoor’s work certainly lives up to this huge demand; an artist whose huge, simple and monochromatic public installations and sculptures always relate to and recall the spaces that they are in, Kapoor’s works enact and engage in a very basic and inevitable dialogue with their viewers. They are overwhelming in their size, yet invite us in, ask us to move around be a part of the work, and therefore form part of our human experience. In this sense there is something very poignant about the title Leviathan, perhaps a reference to Thomas Hobbes’ text and writings on social contract.

‘The sculpture is a total immersion in an unexplored physical and mental dimension. Once you are inside, in the giant 4-armed balloon, the involuted form reminds you of an organic outer space and inner self at the same time – but when you travel outside of it (once you are back in the space of the Grand Palais), I hope the viewer has another encounter with the piece and with the luminosity thrown down by the glass roof.’ In this interview with designboom, Kapoor underlines the way in which the piece is as much, if not more, about the spectator’s experience of the object than the object itself. Leviathan is about the act of viewing, participating, experiencing. ‘Each artwork is above all an event,’ he says.

This physical experience of the work also becomes a cerebral, emotional one. Leviathan centres the focus of the work on the viewer, which automatically makes them reflect upon their own self – rather than on the huge alienating space of the Grand Palais. Leviathan is, we might say, a sort of phenomenology-in-action, a way to understand our own relationship with the space around us and, therefore, our own sense of self. It is a unique sensory and contemplative environment that has the potential for reflection and discovery.

What better way to show off and utilise to its full potential the massive space of the Grand Palais! Here’s a preview of what to expect:

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