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Exhibitions

Let’s Get Physical

Take a wander through an alternative utopia.

AVL Mundo’s Sculpture Park, Keileweg 18, 3029 BS Rotterdam, the Netherlands
18th July – 4th October 2020

By TDE Editorial Team / 15th July 2020

Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘BarRectum’, 2005. ‘BarRectum’, ‘ArschBar’, ‘AssholeBar’, ‘BarAnus’. With a play on words, as well as function, the large-scale sculpture takes its shape from the human digestive system: starting with the tongue, continuing to the stomach, moving through the small and the large intestines and ending with the anus. Its rendition is anatomically correct, except for the colon which has been enlarged to house a bar. The anus constitutes the emergency exit.
COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

TO CELEBRATE OUR new freedom to move about the world, after weeks of lockdown, Atelier Van Lieshout has launched an outdoor sculpture exhibition, Let’s Get Physical. Over thirty sculptures created by the studio have been placed in 13 locations throughout the industrial Merwe-Vierhaven area in the west of Rotterdam (M4H), with visitors given a map to encourage them to seek them out.

Artist Joep van Lieshout has been a pioneer in this formerly derelict area, setting up his studio here in the 1980s and continually expanding and fostering projects in a district that is now thriving with culture, design and technology innovators. In 2001, van Lieshout drew international attention with his project AVL-Ville, the declaration of a self-sustaining independent state in the port of Rotterdam for a year. AVL-Ville had its own flag, constitution, currency, hospital, workshop for weapons and bombs, farm and slaughterhouse, alcohol production, and homes. Let’s Get Physical aims again to entice audiences to engage with M4H, through AVL’s playful, provocative and politically charged installations.

Atelier Van Lieshout, 'Wellness Skull', 2007. A healthy mind in a healthy body. The neck of this giant skull houses a bath and its cranium a sauna. The eyes emit steam when it is in use. 'Wellness Skull' is a monument to the complexity and beauty of the human body, including the parts that usually remain covered. The sculpture also questions our contemporary obsession with youthfulness, self-experiences and indulgence, as wellness has become a new religion. COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘Wellness Skull’, 2007. A healthy mind in a healthy body. The neck of this giant skull houses a bath and its cranium a sauna. The eyes emit steam when it is in use. ‘Wellness Skull’ is a monument to the complexity and beauty of the human body, including the parts that usually remain covered. The sculpture also questions our contemporary obsession with youthfulness, self-experiences and indulgence, as wellness has become a new religion.
COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

The trail starts at the AVL headquarters, AVL Mundo Sculpture Park. Here stand ‘The Technocrat’ (2003), a model for a complex closed circuit of food, alcohol, excrement and energy, in which mankind’s waste (and man himself) is used as the raw material for the production of biogas, as well as ‘Alcoholator’ (2004), a sculpture which offers to produce thousands of litres of liquor every day to keep docile citizens happy. ‘Milkman’ (2015) can be seen at the ‘Floating Farm’, the world’s first waterborne home for cows and ‘The Sower’ (2018) stands in the Voedseltuin, a foundation that grows organic fruit and vegetables for Rotterdam’s food bank. The new sculpture ‘Utopia’ (2020), a prototype robot-warrior, guards one of M4H’s entrances. You can find additional works in dialogue with their locations at Weelde, Keilecafé, Keilepand, Keilewerf, Stichting Dakpark, The Lee Towers, CrossFit Nultien and several publicly accessible venues.

Atelier Van Lieshout, 'Milkman', 2015. The most advanced milking machines are controlled by the cows. Whenever needed, the cow activates a robot that takes its temperature, cleans its udder and extracts milk. It’s a fully automated system that involves no humans at all. Is it efficiency or animal cruelty? The ethical impact of technology is often difficult to ascertain. COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘Milkman’, 2015. The most advanced milking machines are controlled by the cows. Whenever needed, the cow activates a robot that takes its temperature, cleans its udder and extracts milk. It’s a fully automated system that involves no humans at all. Is it efficiency or animal cruelty? The ethical impact of technology is often difficult to ascertain.
COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

What better way to engage with AVL’s themes – broadly, the individual against the system – communicated with cheerful cynicism, than here?

Atelier Van Lieshout, 'Waterwagon', 2007. 'Waterwagon' is part of Slave City, a completely self-sufficient city free of hunger, sickness and unemployment. Inhabitants perform the slave labour necessary for its smooth operation. When they become redundant, their organs are sold and the rest is recycled as food, biofuel and compost. Ultimately, that will also be the fate of the figures who pull this wagon that provides the city with the water it cannot do without. COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘Waterwagon’, 2007. ‘Waterwagon’ is part of Slave City, a completely self-sufficient city free of hunger, sickness and unemployment. Inhabitants perform the slave labour necessary for its smooth operation. When they become redundant, their organs are sold and the rest is recycled as food, biofuel and compost. Ultimately, that will also be the fate of the figures who pull this wagon that provides the city with the water it cannot do without.
COURTESY: Atelier Van Lieshout

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