The Sculpture ‘Marmite’ Question:

What do you love?

Daniel Dewar and Gregory Gicquel, Pantalons de jogging et mocassins à pampilles
Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel, Pantalon de jogging et mocassins à pampilles, 2014, marble and grantite h.4m., Mérignac, Bordeaux, France (photo: Bordeaux Métropole)

What do you hate?

Jeff Koons, Balloon Flower (red)
Jeff Koons, Balloon Flower (red), 2006, polychromed bronze, stainless steel and aluminium,7 World Trade Center, New York, USA , © Jeff Koons (photo: Creative Commons)

Katia Kameli replies:

Pantalon de jogging et mocassins à pampilles (Sweatpants and mocassins with tassels) is a 4 metre high sculpture by Daniel Dewar and Gregory Gicquel set in Mérignac, a western neighbourhood of Bordeaux in the South of France. The dimensions of the sculpture stand out, referring to the more classical function of sculpture in a public space as an emblematic celebration of historical power in the city. Here however, I like the slightly ironic twist – the sculpture is just legs and feet or rather, pants and shoes. No one is identified, but the sculpture distinctly refers to two different social classes which are characteristic of Bordeaux’s demography. The sweatpants refer to a suburban dress code, while the mocassins allude to a bourgeois one. The materials used reflect this dichotomy, polished-pinked marble for the shiny leather shoes, grey granite for the cotton sweatpants. For me, this work sums up the complexity of the urban space, embracing both social divisions and also, through fashion, its relevance to a particular period of time

A public sculpture I don’t like is Jeff Koons, Balloon Flower (Red) outside 7 World Trade Center in New York. Between 1994 and 1999, Jeff Koons started to flood the world with his ‘celebration series’, stainless steel flower sculptures in yellow, red, blue and orange. Here is the red version, but the colour actually does not matter: I do not like any of them. The particularity of this one though, is the context. The sculpture stands in a triangular square near 7 World Trade Center, a skyscraper in Lower Manhattan’s financial district, its name refers to the first building, the World Trade Center destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In famous Koons’s style, the flowers are supposed to refer to balloons at children’s party and, one can surmise, allude to fun and frivolity expressed in the ultimate pop gesture, which is his specialism. To me, however, the sculpture does not sit well here. There is nothing site-specific about it – a shame when considering a place with such a strong history. Not that I would necessarily want to see a dramatic sculpture, but one commissioned especially for the site would seem more appropriate than this theme park image.