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Art Diary International 2013/2014
is now out, packed with contact information for galleries, museums, artists, curators, critics, and other professional arts services around the world.


Antony Gormley: Clay and the Collective Body
Max Ryynänen

IHME, Kaisaniemi Park, Helsinki

March 21 to April 7 2009

 

British sculptor Antony Gormley (b. 1950) was the guest artist of Helsinki’s new annual art event IHME, organized by Pro Arte Foundation Finland. IHME is Finnish for miracle, but Pro Arte’s aspirations are down-to-earth: Art should engage with the community. And it did. The 2009 IHME production brought together 1300 local inhabitants to work with a 4x4x4m clay cube that weighed 160,000 kg. The name of the work, which actually became a whole world on its own, was Clay and the Collective Body. The 10-day event took place in Kaisaniemi Park in the heart of the city, which was still partly under snow. Thousands of different sized sculptures were created inside a womb-like tent, which on the outside might misleadingly have produced associations with another culture of miracles, Baptism.

 

IHME Project 2009: Antony Gormley, Clay and the Collective Body. Releasing the clay cube’s supports. Photo: Kai Widell.

 

Many participating “artists” returned several times, working for days on their contribution, which testified to the successful charge of creative energy in this inflatable, “windowless, wet dome,” as Gormley himself called it in his talk.

 

IHME Project 2009: Antony Gormley, Clay and the Collective Body. Transformation of the clay cube, 25 – 31 March 2009. Photo: Kai Widell.

 

The project succeeded on a very concrete and profound level to create turbulence in our conceptions of authorship and collectivity. But boundaries were crossed in harmony; it was an event full of warmth, and people were engaged. Some even cried on the site, but there was nothing kitschy about it, just the overwhelming feeling of participating in a larger-than-life project, working together with strangers, with magnified results.

 

IHME Project 2009: Antony Gormley, Clay and the Collective Body. Transformation of the clay cube, 25 – 31 March 2009. Photo: Kai Widell.

 

The outcome, which brought to mind archeological findings of a whole culture of clay, was exhibited for the public for a period of four days. Over 4000 visitors saw the body of work produced by the loose ephemeral collective.

 

The guest artist for the 2010 IHME will be the Berlin-based, Scottish artist Susan Philipsz, who is famous for her sound installations.


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