Sunday, July 12, 2009

International Sand Sculpture Competition

I visited Berlin recently (amazing) and whilst wandering around the area near the central train station attempting to find the Hamburger Banhof Museum for Contemporary Art (it was oddly difficult for me to locate the entrance), I stumbled across an uncharacteristically sandy area labeled "Sandstation". Entering the space for a small fee of 5 Euro, I found a beachy haven with large umbrellas, beach chairs, beer stands (naturally, this is Germany), and a host of fascinating and incredibly impressive sand sculptures from a collection of international artists.

The first section was devoted to animal subjects, and included a little area for kids to make their own sand creations. I dug the elephant by Johanna Landscheidt and two-headed dragon from Lena Tempich the most.

The main portion was the competition itself, with the theme "City of the Future", so many works involved robotic or computer imagery. I really enjoyed every piece- it was consistently astounding to see the level of detail and the scope of the designs (full view on the photos is recommended). There was a good blend of conceptual and literal interpretations of the challenge. I wish I could have seen the artists' building processes, since I'm pretty baffled by how they achieved certain effects. The following is a selection of my favorites (which is the bulk of entries in the competition, really).

Escape from Virtuality by Ukranian artist Irina Taflevskaya was easily my favorite. It's bold and striking, with a fantastic concept and straightforward, uncluttered execution. Caught my eye instantly, even from beyond the area's surrounding fence.

Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik imagines an idealistic future with City of Peace, showing Buddha visiting Berlin during its peaceful time, with elements of Indian architecture incorporated into the composition.

Seven artists from different countries worked together on the monumental Berlin in 2222, a sprawling, mountainous piece combining jagged tiers with various figural elements. It was very hard to get a full photo of it due to its size, but here are some detail shots. The artists are: Lisa Buchholz, Johanna Landscheidt, Edwin Spaan, Lena Tempich, Martin Tulinius, Niels Vegter, and Johannes Weckl.

Shift by Toshihiko Hosaka of Japan is an interesting mix of human features with hard, industrial surfaces, and a little bit of outer space thrown in. I like the overall shape very much (he was inspired by Mt Fuji as well as Berlin's Sony Center ceiling) and really appreciate the detail and texture of the hands and figure.

Berlin-based artist Ulrich Baentsch paid homage to Rodin with The Thinker. As I approached I thought it was just his own sandy version of the classic sculpture, but seen from the other side it is revealed to be partially composed of "bricks" cracking through the smooth facade.

Danish artist Maria Eliot Torp brings us One More Beer, a rendering of the "bar of the future". I love the sci-fi elements here as well as the thoughtful design of the space and its characters. It focused more on expression than most of the other pieces.

Belgian artist Isabelle Decallonne envisions a future headed by women, though still inseparable from the male-dominated past in her large piece Past and Future. I'm not enamored of the execution (the female form looks a little awkward in her positioning, shape, and relation to the buildings below her), but I really like the concept.

Will We Let Us Raise Our Own Children? from Netherlandish artist Joris Kivits was my other favorite. In his version of the Virgin and Child motif, he replaces Mary with an android covered in a shroud, connected to large pumps and wires. She "breastfeeds" a faceless human child through a tube. It's a very blatant and slightly disturbing image, but exceptionally executed and quite memorable. Its large size definitely helps it make a lasting impact.

This really interesting event continues through August 30, so if you happen to be in the Berlin area any time before then, I highly recommend it! It was a wonderfully singular experience for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

has anyone noticed that the madonna feeding child is also a giant clitoris(her head)and all that beautifull drapery r labial folds...2shay...