Anish Kapoor dyes this earth red in memory of refugees

The artist’s new exhibition, Destierro, encourages visitors to think about the changing nature of national borders
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Anish Kapoor beside  Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria
Anish Kapoor beside Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria

Argentina’ Parque de la Memoria, or Memory Park, in the Belgrano neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, was built in 1998 to memorialise those lost in the country’s Dirty War. The sculpture park is only a short walk from the military airport where many dissidents last set foot on land, before being flown out over the Atlantic Ocean and dropped into the sea.

In recent years, works shown in Parque de la Memoria haven’t solely engaged with this period of late 20th century extrajudicial killing, and instead pieces by such artists as Jenny Holzer have expressed a broader human-rights message.

 

Anish Kapoor beside  Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria
Anish Kapoor beside Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria

At the moment the Park is hosting a new solo exhibition by the British artist Anish Kapoor, dedicated to those not lost through wilful state intervention, but rather through neglect.

Entitled Destierro or ‘exile’, the show engages with the newfound sense of borders brought about by the refugee crisis. Kapoor was born in Bombay, is of mixed Indian and Jewish heritage, has lived in London for decades, and has expressed his support for those displaced by the war in Syria a great deal recently. Yet this new show is perhaps his most moving evocation of the theme.

The show's title work consists of over 100 tonnes of earth spread across the main gallery floor. Kapoor has painted these hillocks a vivid red and set an equally vivid, bright blue digger in among the mounds. Visitors aren’t allowed to wander in among the red dirt of Destierro, and in this way Kapoor makes so simple a substance seem alien and unfamiliar.

 

Anish Kapoor beside  Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria
Anish Kapoor beside Destierro (2017). Image courtesy of Parque de la Memoria

“The real borders of today's world are no longer the ones that separate nations,” says the show’s curator, Marcello Dantas, “but the borders that separate those that have some bit of ground to stand on and those that have none.”

Perhaps Kapoor’s red earth will raise the plight of those left without a piece of ground to call their now. For greater insight into this important artist’s work get a copy of our book; and for more on both his and other artists' uses of colour, get Chromaphilia.


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