|Denmark's most famous landmark, The Little Mermaid, gets a male counterpart made by Elmgreen and Dragset|
HAN by Elmgreen and Dragset. Photo: Anders Sune Berg.
COPENHAGEN.- She has been beheaded twice, lost an arm, and been daubed with paint at least seven times. The iconic statue of the Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersens fairy tale is now getting a male counterpart: Han a polished stainless steel sculpture featuring a young boy on a stone. The sculpture has been created by Elmgreen & Dragset, the artist duo behind the recent four-meter high bronze sculpture in one of Londons most distinguished spaces Trafalgar Square.
Han (HIM - in Danish) depicts a young man. He is positioned on a stone by the seaside - just like his famous sister in Copenhagen. The new sculpture has been created in contemporary materials: both the male figure and the stone have been cast in polished stainless steel, mirroring the surroundings in the sculptures curved surface thereby creating a distorted imagery reminiscent of a psychedelic aesthetic. With true Elmgreen & Dragset chicanery and courtesy of a hydraulic mechanism, the eyes of the sculpture will close for a split second once every hour just one blink before it becomes a traditional static statue once more.
Han is highly-anticipated in Denmark due to its prominent permanent location on the harbour of Elsinore, opposite the Castle of Kronborg - famous as the historic setting of Shakespeares Hamlet.
Michael Elmgreen says, Creating a sculptural art work that will be installed in a public space is significantly different from showing it in the context of a museum. Visitors who enter a museum have already prepared themselves for a visual experience; whereas an audience outside a museum hasnt actually asked to have an artistic experience - that is important to bear in mind when you, as an artist, are commissioned to do a public sculpture. The sculpture must communicate on all kinds of levels.
Han is a work that encourages to many complex readings behind its outwardly appealing surface. It makes clear references to The Little Mermaid. The two sculptures are almost identical in size and, like his older sister. Han sits on a rock, gazing out toward the sea. However, the sculpture raises not only questions of nationality and gender politics. Located at the far end of a jetty, the sculpture also tells the tale of loneliness in our modern society of being alone amongst the many.
June 4, 2012
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