Magazine article Sculpture

The Will to Live

Magazine article Sculpture

The Will to Live

Article excerpt

Robert Preece: Regarding Untitled (Intifada),.you have said, "Uprising, rebellion or resistance, this Is my intention for the spirit of this installation.! dom'd necessarily mean this in an obvious political sense, more a shaking off of that which limits a better future.'' The museum describes the work In a mcme neutral way, as "a poetic installation with chive trees, a symbol of prosperity and hope." Rotterdam has sizeable Arab and Muslim populations, and the city has experienced tensions of various kinds over recent years. Did you specifically site this work for Rotterdam?

Siobhán Hapaska: No, the work was not specifically made for that city. I had no particular place in mind. It's just incidental, as there are proportionally large mixes of Arab/Muslim populations in most modern cities. However, I can see how you may have speculated on this proposal due to my specific use of the word "intifada." I use it in a general sense, not so limited to the political connotations normally ascribed to it. It is a beautiful word in all its complexity. But, in this instance, I use it with its literal translation of "shaking off," of discarding that which limits a brighter future, since loss can sometimes stimulate a more progressive way of existing, a reordering of things, a reassessment ofthat which does not work.

RP: The olive tree is a recurring element In your work, for instance, In Downfall (2009).

SH: When I was a child, I bought my mother a cherry blossom tree. It was very small when I planted it, and with the passing years, It grew to a very grand height, unlike myself. I returned from college one year and saw that this magnificent tree was now only a sad little stump protruding from the ground. My mother had the tree cut down because her neighbors complained that the falling blossoms made their driveways look untidy. It broke my heart in a small way, and I wondered how people could be so empty-headed -why they could not simply appreciate this beautiful tree for what it was and what it gave them. This sadness was reactivated when I saw the incongruous image of an olive tree ripped from the ground and suspended by a military crane In the territory of the the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Then my mind jumped back to A Level ancient history. I recalled a textbook that described a correlation between the destruction of Mediterranean olive groves, the fall of local economies, and ultimately, the downfall of these early civilizations. It was a foreboding reminder of the potential return of this precedent in modern times. There Is a pervading concept that we can determine how advanced a society is by observing how it treats the most vulnerable. By using the olive tree, as metaphor or not, I'm obliguely attempting to address issues of inhumanity, destruction, and loss, with all of their inevitable conseguences.

RP: No one won (2006) is particularly striking. It seems to have a religious quality, maybe referring to Italian Baroque celling painting, a kind of floating crucifixion form. Could you tell me about the form, the positioning, the choice of materials and their juxtaposition, and the title ?

SH: I don't see it as having any direct religious connotations, but the composition is indeed reminiscent of a crucifix. In this instance, there are two bodies, the coyote and the longhorn, each with their distinct essences. We often communicate history and thoughts through symbols that have meaning for each generation. In Native American culture, the coyote infers how wisdom and folly can exist in the same body. The coyote is also an outsider. It's a peripheral creature that manages to survive against the odds because of its enduring resourcefulness. There are many people who are forced to adopt these tactics, and they're generally regarded with contempt by those who got a better deal. On the other hand, the symbolism of the mighty longhorn seems to allude to all that is enduring, with solidity, strength, unity, and prosperity - the dream of many people in settled societies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.