Photo Stroll – Liane Lang’s Fallen on show at Art First Projects London

I am interested in the idea of the sculptural object that has forfeited its role to be treated and seen as an artwork. Traditionally the sculpted figure loses its status as artwork the closer it becomes to being life‐like, ranging from the marble carving down to the tawdry side‐show reputation of the wax work. The Socialist statues, many made with great skill by important sculptors of the time, became culpable by association and lost their status as artwork in this way.

“Central to this series is the notion of iconoclasm, which continues into other projects. The statue becomes the object of bodily punishment in acts of iconoclasm, being treated as a symbolic site for physical humiliation, injury and execution in lieu of the real body. The symbolic act of deposition is often more powerful and long lasting than the fate of person portrayed.” Liane Lang


Winner of last year’s Hotshoe Photofusion Award, Liane Lang has a new solo show on until 11 May at Art First Projects London. I knew of Lang’s work from a previous post, way back when her series Monumental Misconceptions first came to my attention.

Needless to say, I went along to the private view last week to see Lang’s photographic and sculptural work and support her. I also grabbed a few shots for my Photo Stroll and was pleased to find out that she has also been selected for the Art Omi Residency 2013 in New York State this summer. If you are anywhere near the West End in London, do pop by and take a look. All the works are for sale; the photos are C-type prints in editions of 3 in two sizes and the cold-cast bronze statues are editions of 3 also. (ASIDE: The cold-cast bronze technique is one that is familiar; my mum worked for South African sculptor Giovanni Schoeman in Covent Garden in the 1970s and used to teach people how to cast them using the technique. Giovanni, however, met an untimely and rather gruesome end in a triple execution-style killing. Yes, this is true.)

Anyway, back to the show. Lang’s show Fallen “combines elements of her ongoing series of works undertaken during her residency at the Memento Sculpture Park in Budapest (the resting place of discarded and exiled monumental sculptural works from the socialist era in Hungary) with a new series of sculptures that take as their subject defaced and destroyed monuments to dictators and deposed leaders – the sculptures themselves derive from documentation of these acts of symbolic violence: from the black and white footage of the Czar’s statue being torn down by horse-power in Eisenstein’s 1928 film October, to contemporary footage of a different kind of horsepower at work on the iconic statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003.”

“The role of scale in art is questioned in the show. “In the case of monumental sculpture, the sense of subjective appreciation or interpretation is determinedly overridden by the artist – the work has a distinct purpose and employs tried‐and‐tested mechanisms in its approach to materials and scale to achieve its function – to depict the subject as heroic; all‐powerful; permanent. By tweaking one of these vital mechanisms – scale – Lang is able to create space for a much broader range of interpretations.

“The statuesque subjects of her works are variously belittled (in their reduction to sculptural miniatures) or revealed as grotesques as Lang introduces her life‐size simulacra to them, highlighting the absurdity of their heroic poses. The resulting original works thus retain the echo of the appropriated sculptures polemic message, but create room around them for humour and a strange and haunting beauty, born of empathy – for the mighty (however tyrannical) brought low, and for the very human condition of impermanence.” Press release.
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All iPhone photos © Miranda Gavin 2013.

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