Every May, a guest curator descends upon the streets of Brighton to create cultural magic. 2009 was the turn of sculptor Anish Kapoor, which sent most of the artist community in a devilish fever. As well as writing for the Pebble, I also volunteered for the project organised by Fabrica, which involved invidulating several of his sculptures that were strategically placed around Brighton. It was a great thing to be involved with and I managed to take some great snaps of C-Curve which was situated at the downs. This was published in the May 2009 issue of the Pebble.
Brighton festival special – Anish Kapoor
The Brighton Festival, now in its 43rd year, is very lucky to have Turner prize winning artist Anish Kapoor as its guest artist director. Born in India, he is one the most prestigious and influential sculptors of his generation, producing simple yet engaging curved forms that are often shrouded in mystery. The pieces he has lent to the Brighton festival are no exception. Seven works are on display until the festivals finale on the 24th May, two of which are specially commissioned and entry to most of them is free. But what is exactly on display?
Sky Mirror – Pavilion gardens
Many of you have probably already walked past the crowds in the pavilion gardens wondering what all the fuss is about. This circular concave disk is made from £1,000,000 of stainless steel and is one of the smaller versions in a series of sky mirrors that have been previously housed in Nottingham and New York. What Kapoor is trying to explore here is the notion of the ‘void’ where things disappear into a vortex of nothingness. The positioning of the mirror has been specifically designed so that if you stand directly in front of it but behind the fence (the corner where the flower bed meets the grass) you can see birds disappear when they fly over the sky. The mirror is viewable 24 hours a day, but the specific timing (and weather conditions) greatly affect your experience of the piece, so I would recommend seeing it more than once, to witness the act of transformation in different forms. Festival guides will be present between 12pm and 8pm.
C-Curve – The Chattri
This is another famous piece of work that has been seen in other places before the festival. The Chattri site held a special significance for Kapoor, as Indian soldiers that fought for Britain during the First World War were hospitalised in the Dome and are cremated here. The memorial was built here in 1921 to honour their memory and represent the protection of the dead.
Supposedly when Kapoor visited the site, crows took flight as he approached the Chatteri and it reminded him of cremation sites in India, so he instantaneously knew that this site would be perfect for this piece and would provide a whole new meaning; death, reflection and remembrance.
To get up to the C-Curve, you need to catch either a 5 or 5A bus to the Ladies Mile Pub in Patcham, walk up to the Horsedean Recreation Ground, and there is a signposted track up to the Chatteri. Like the Sky Mirror, C-Curve is viewable 24 hours a day, Festival guides will be present between 12pm and 8pm.
Dismemberment of Jeanne D’arc – Old Market – Circus Street
This is the main work of the exhibition, commissioned for the festival and specifically realised in an old fruit and vegetable market that closed down in 2005. Showing his progression from previous exhibitions, this work incorporates Blood stick (2005), and is a part of the progression towards a major show at Grand Palais in Paris in two years time. As you walk around, you eventually come to realise the mounds, limbs, and 2 ft pit resemble a dismembered female body. The title pays homage to Joan of Arc, the young woman who led the French Army through many victories against the English in the 13th Century, and was burned at the stake when she was just 19. What Kapoor has done here is transformed a once derelict building into an almost sacred site. The rich bloody reds of the stone and gravel in one sense are barbaric, but can also imply sensual sexuality, in its raw form. And with the space itself, Kapoor has resurrected its purpose and meaning, the same way the story of the Joan of Arc was been frequently transformed throughout history.
The Muncipal Market is open from 12pm – 8pm, Festival guide will be available and entry is free.
The Festival also features Blood Relations and 1000 Names (1979 – 1980) are housed at the Fabrica Gallery on Duke Street, open from 12pm – 8pm, which are some of Kapoors older peices. Imagined Monochrome is located in the Basement, and is viewable by ½ hr appointments only, which cost £12. Not very much can be revealed about this piece, other than you will receive a massage and you will see something that you didn’t expect…
What is important to remember when looking at Kapoors works is although there is very little metaphorical stimulus to work with and your interpretation of what the works mean may be different from the person standing next to you, but this is the intended effect. Many of these works have been placed in different locations previously, so the meaning for Kapoor changes with every new place, so it will do for you too. For Kapoor, meaning is developed through the creation process, and the way that people interpret works in different ways depending on the way you look at it can only be a good thing. By being minimalistic, they encourage you to think. So when placed in a beautiful site of culture and rich history that is Brighton, and looked at with fresh eyes, these sculptures are transformed into different objects that can be easily enjoyed by all.