The residents of Hamburg got a massive shock this week when a 13-foot high and 98-foot long woman appeared to be taking a bath in the city’s Binnenalster Lake.
The sculpture of a blonde head and two knees poking out of the water, unashamedly sitting in full view in the middle of a lake, has, like all good public artwork, quickly provoked reaction and debate.
She’s had a few problems since being unveiled. Not only did she nearly sink, but local residents struggled to see her artistic merits. Some spectators have described it as a "superfluous spectacle," while others think it carries an environmental message. "Like that blonde, we should one day be able to swim in the Binnenalster again," commented one spectator.
The reaction globally from residents in other cities however appears to be something along the lines of ‘we want one’ and we certainly would love to see her in the middle of the Thames!
The final installation was delayed for two days with technical problems that threatened to sink the project, but now the figure is expected to continue her bath for at least another week.
The work is the brainchild of Oliver Voss. His "Bather", as the sculpture is entitled, had to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops before it could be installed, but now he's proud of the finished product."I wanted to give something back to the city that gave me so much," Voss said.
The figure, whose knees rule it out from being technically classified as a mermaid, is made of styrofoam and steel and is stabilised with sandbags and buoys.
"The giant nymph is not meant to provoke," added Voss. "It's just to encourage you to experience the Binnenalster in a new way." He also said that it is meant to promote Hamburg as a centre for creative industries.
The result and finish of the piece is something spectacular and refreshingly unprententious (an element that appears synonomous with public artwork). With such a juxtaposition between the subject and landscape you cannot help but smile.
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