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Statue scares public, angers art buffs

The Local · 10 May 2012, 16:40

Published: 10 May 2012 16:40 GMT+02:00

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A woman passing by the St Elizabeth church in Kassel, Hesse, early on Monday panicked when she saw a figure standing, arms stretched, on scaffolding built around the church’s tower.

An 18-strong team of firemen arrived, ready to spring into action, local paper the Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine Zeitung reported. But what they found was not a person in need, but a life-size statue inside the frame of the modern church tower.

The figure was created by local sculptor Stephan Balkenhols, whose work is set to be exhibited in the church in early June.

The timing has caused conflict with organisers of the Documenta – one of Europe’s biggest contemporary art events – who are filling the city with art installations at the same time. Balkenhols is not involved, leaving Documenta organisers furious, calling his move disrespectful.

“We expected more respect from the Catholic Church,” head of the event Bernd Leifeld said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“The artistic director feels threatened by the figure, and this type of art,” he said.

He added that the statue, which is meant to mirror the cross directly above it, would dominate installations in the Friedrichsplatz square below.

“It is exactly the opposite of what we want to present art as,” said Documenta artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev who wanted visitors to the Documenta to tap into the idea of being a tiny part of the world’s eco-system, according to local paper the Frankfurter Rundschau on Thursday.

But project manager of the Balkenholz exhibit disagreed, saying that “a large man on a tiny ball should represent hubris, not power.”

Story continues below…

The Documenta kicks off on June 9 and the Balkenhols exhibition official begins around the same time. The artist intends on keeping the Jesus-esque figure standing on the church until September.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:06 May 10, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
If I were Balkenhols, I would claim being 'threatened' by the Documanta event, and say he 'expected more respect' from the art community.
21:07 May 17, 2012 by Teddy57
Saw a similar piece of work last September in Salzburg Austria. Exactly the same except the world part was much larger. Apparently he had to scale down to fit into the tower. So, how is this disresectfull? Oh, I get it. He is not part of Documenta. Apparently they did not get the memo. Most true Artists do not belong to a herd. I personally did not think it was particularly good, but that is the nature of art. Artists should not be expected to follow a herd mentality nor should those who appreciate art be compelled to like "approved" works. Kinda smacks of old Soviet methods. Is Frau Direktor of the Documenta a former official of the East German Ministry of Culture. Just wondering.
05:03 May 21, 2012 by Germanphile
Seems like it could be sayin' : World, hi
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