Friday, June 17, 2011
New Zealand can lay claim to one of Anish Kapoor’s biggest sculptures (size is a bit of a theme with sculpture farm owner Alan Gibbs) but for a few months Paris is at the top of the heap because that’s where the monster Leviathan has been installed in the Grand Palais. We say installed, but in fact the 35 meter high inflatable sculpture almost fills the place like some mutant zeppelin in a giant World War I field hanger.
The full-on experience of Leviathan turned out to be a deal more interesting than suggested by the photographs where awesome scale is where it starts and ends. As a visitor you experience the sculpture in two phases, first by entering inside the cathedral-like space of Leviathan through a revolving door and then secondly by circling around its bulging outer skin housed inside the fanciful extravagance of the Grand Palace itself. This building gives Leviathan a decidedly steam-punk feel with its early twentieth century steel, curlicues, glass and rivets. In the dim, super-charged heat of the internal spaces the audience certainly responded. Dancing, waving of arms, bouncing off the walls, explosions of applause and animal noises to test the echoes, thousands of photographs.
The action continued outside the PVC forms as well, although in a more muted way. At one stage we watched a small group of children being called together by their teacher when suddenly another twenty or so of them started appearing like a shoal of fish from under the sculpture where they had been buried away hiding. No surprise to recall that Moby Dick was also known as the Leviathan.
Images: Top, inside Leviathan. Middle, outside Leviathan inside the Grand Palais. Bottom, coaxing kids out from under Leviathan