BIELEFELD, GERMANY.- Kunsthalle Bielefeld presents Not Vital Agadez. Social Sculpture, on view through June 5, 2005. Not Vital, born in 1948 in Sent, Graubünden, is one of the leading sculptors in the world today. With its motifs of snow, ice, and casts of animals, his oeuvre is surrealistic and culturally ambivalent. Vitals materials include plaster, bronze, light and dark marble, silver, and gold. Many of his works seem like totems, containing the embodiment of sensory forces. He has often transported images from a hot culture to a cold culture. At the Venice Biennial in 2001, he showed aluminum camel heads under water, which were only visible during periods of low tide. Forces of life and nature are themes of his work. This second large exhibition of the artists works in Bielefeld is exclusively devoted to Vitals artistic and social work in the city of Agadez, in the deserts of Niger.
Vital has been working in Agadez since 2000, where he and the Tuareg have erected various buildings and created new types of sculpture. So far, they have built a mekafoni (a house with horns and a terraced pyramid), a makaranta, where children study the Koran and French, and a multi-story building with separate staircases in an oasis, which is used to observe the sunset. In the new sculptures from Agadez, the remains of dead camels and goats are hidden in silver and ceramic spheres or a silver box. One hundred and ninety-two blue plastic cups form a pillar titled West Africa. Vital will also bury a stuffed baby camel in the Kunsthalle park.
Besides an impressive series of new sculptures, the show also features a number of photographs, as well as extraordinary examples from a large installation made of desert salt, which will fill the second floor of the Philip Johnson building. More than two thousand shapes made of salt from the desert city of Bilma, weighing twenty-one tons altogether, are the center of attention here. They are saltlicks for oxen, camels, goats, sheep, and donkeys. These shapes are presented in contrast to foodstuffs of the same value: hundreds of kilograms of spaghetti, which will be sent to Niger after the end of the show.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Kunststiftung NRW. The Kunsthalle Bielefeld has produced an accompanying thirty-minute film. An informative catalog will be published in German, English, and French. A reading room will also be available to visitors.
Florio Puenter: The camels installation in front of the artists house in Agadez (2003).
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