Skull 2

Els Dietvorst


Materials: metal, wood, loam, pigeons

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp / Donated by the artist, 2009 (Inv. no. S0410).

Sculpture is beside drawing, writing and video an important medium in my artpractice. I started the Skull-series out of disbelieve and anger on the black pages of human history. The Skull-sculptures became a metaphor for useless violence and a symbol for human respect, gathering and transcendance. Skull 2 (2008) was made on the roof of the M HKA, Museum of modern art in Antwerp and was a reaction on the War on terror. 

The form of every skull is based on the skull of a Neanderthaler. The Neanderthaler is often pictured in history as a brute but was peacefull and shared peacefull rituals. They vanished when modern humans arrived in Europe. The teeth in all of the Skull-series are human beings refering to 'us' the people. Mostly I use natural materials as wood, loam and clay to give the sculptures a fragile skin.The Skull-sculptures also serve as a refuge, you can hide, shelter, meet in it. I see the Skull series as a strong symbol that links us and that belongs to us all, humans. I see it also as a fragile and at the same time strong metaphor against violence.

Els Dietvorst

The Skulls series is created in reaction to the wars in former Yugoslavia, Darfur and Iraq. The first is a gigantic version created – almost symbolically – in a warehouse in the heart of the Maria Ter Heide military base. This skull is large enough to enter, and once inside, you can peer through its teeth, which are formed to look like figures. This Skull is made based on the solitary confinement cages of the Guantanamo prison. The cage in which Maquette: SKULL stands, serves as a dovecote. Dietvorst positions small benches around the Skull, on which people can ‘enjoy’ the imprisonment.

“In 2009, on the roof of M HKA in Antwerp, she exhibited the gigantic work Skull, a figure in a cage, fashioned from mud and wood. This powerfully visual work is Dietvorst’s way of reacting to the numerous images of war that the media floods us with. This specific work alludes to Guantanamo; to solitary confinement in cages. Dietvorst made a life-sized model of one of them, inhabited by a gigantic skull. On the roof of the museum, the head appears to be imprisoned in a dovecote, which can be viewed from a nearby bench. After a while, two pigeons built their nest in the cage and hatched out their eggs there – thus a piece about murder facilitates the creation of new life at a totally different level…”(source; Eva Wittocx, ED2)

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