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Andrés Ginestet and his work
At the age of 25, he won the competition for the inner court of the Postbank regional headquarters, Dortmund, Germany, against competitors like the British sculptor, Tony Cragg. The following 10 years of his life, he dedicated to this project called “ELAN”.
Selon Henri Bergson, mouvement vital et créateur qui traverse la matière en se diversifiant (1907).
The ELAN is a 30 t-heavy massive clay figure, half female / half male, crawling in its own corporal limits and trying to reach its own reflection in a mirror. It is the only sculpture worldwide dedicated to the emancipation understood in its vastest and universal meaning. We do not emancipate from anything, but only from ourselves trying to surmount our own limitations day after day. This concept gets also reflected in the materials used, as a whole new mixture of clay and new techniques of firing had to be invented in order to realize this sculpture being the biggest existing massive clay sculpture in the world.
With the German Reunification in 1990, emancipation becomes itself part of the ongoing project as the budget is suddenly cut by 75%. Andrés Ginestet opts to continue the work as scheduled reinvesting his profit of the project and getting sponsors to support parts of the construction. Nevertheless, he finishes the oeuvre including music and a perfume in the general concept.
Another unexpected event happens. During the installation of the clay figure, the employees start a general strike as they wanted to discuss the philosophical concept of emancipation expressed by the ELAN in order to find their way to a more emancipated working climate. After this, the direction of the Postbank decides to “close” the inner court of the building and cancel the project of opening a banking hall right next to the ELAN. Since then, anybody who is not employed by the Postbank has to ask permission in order to visit the ELAN – including Andrés Ginestet himself.
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