Monday, March 15, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wharf

The thing that used to stop people touching public sculpture was the plinth. It wouldn’t stop Queen Vic getting a funny hat or having someone’s underpants strung round her neck from time to time, but it did mean she avoided the odd savage kick, graffiti or over-enthusiastic gymnastics. So what happens to public sculpture that not only shrugs off its plinths but also provocatively smothers them like a set of reflective tea cosies? In the case of Peter Trevelyan’s The Mimetic Brotherhood outside Te Papa, it’s the work – not an attacking public – that has buckled. After about a month into its two-year stint on the waterfront Brotherhood’s corners are bent back, a number of the ‘mirrors’ are badly dented and if the hydraulic system originally promised to “to make them slowly change shape“ was ever installed, it appears to have given up the ghost.

In a last ditch effort to stop further damage the Sculpture Trust announced, “They've been there for people to touch, but we've decided that that's not working, so we will be putting a sign up saying 'don't touch'.“ And they did, in computer lettering onto the sculptures themselves. It looks like it’s a face-off between the Trust’s graffiti and the public. No prize for guessing who will win and, more poignantly, who will lose.
Image: leave me alone signage on The Mimetic Brotherhood

Other OTN posts on the Brotherhood here and here