German sculptors Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle seek to bypass cultural differences that separate peoples of the world by creating legions of one-of-a-kind, beautifully crafted yet whimsically formed species, which they situate in unlikely places. This tall order, in the style of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, is about how art completely alters the environment; and more importantly, affects the people who experience it. Appropriated from characters they grew up with in Europe – the classic Smurfs – their sculptures are asexual beings from pop-culture. The duo has created five different species, each characteristically distinct and classified by name. These organic creatures are wiggly, melted, inflated and deflated, at times with folds, pleats, and flowing bodies that germinate from meticulous, labor intensive carved and sanded obdurate marble or cast in bronze. In remote areas of Somalia, the Congo, and the Pacific Islands; in mountainous Peru and in metropolitan Las Vegas, the artists place these humorous, soulful creatures. Among the species to be seen here are the white marble Smörfs, back from their Congo journey. Despite language, cultural, and political barriers, and much initial opposition, a round of beers and good humor alleviated the tension and hostility. The forms were surprisingly hoisted on several Congolese barges and passers-by, many in native canoes, engaged with the unusual, non-threatening and joyous sight of the glistening creatures sailing down the Zaire River.
Published courtesy of ArtScene ©2010