Totem with Magpie - Spirits of the Emscher Valley
Dimensions: 442 x 148 x 90 cm (3 + 2 AP)
Exhibition history: 2016 Emscherkunst Triennale, Germany
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
For the third edition of the Emscherkunst Triennial 2016, Lucy + Jorge Orta created Spirits of the Emscher Valley. The Triennial spans a 50-Km trail along the river Emscher, criss-crossing natural parklands and post-industrial landscapes, dialoguing with the changing environment in the Ruhr area. For the occasion, Lucy + Jorge Orta have installed three 'Spirits' at strategic locations to reveal meaningful interpretations regarding the history of the former coal and steel industries.
Since 2012, the artists’ 'Spirits' interweave between the medium of performance and figurative sculpture, working as metaphors of the locations in which they are performed or installed, and aim to capture the "soul" of the place. The participative approach – at the heart of the artists work – is essential in the process of the sculptural "personification". For Emscherkunst, Lucy + Jorge Orta worked together closely with residents from the Ruhr area, people who have special connections to the locations, prompting story-telling about their communities.
Installed on the shore of the Phoenix lake at Dortmund-Hörde, Totem with Magpie evokes a new generation who will grow up within this industrial metamorphosis while Bird woman is symbolically linking the East and West side of Phoenix formerly joined by a viaduct. At Kokerei Hansa in Dortmund-Huckarde, a coke plant which closed in the '9Os, the Observer, like an oracle, testifies to the transformation of the landscape: Nature is invading and taking possession of the relics of past.