Lady Liberty shines at Oriental Institute exhibit

September 11, 2012 3:27:28 PM PDT
The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is famous for its ancient arts, but a new exhibit looks at the Statue of Liberty -- piece by piece.

The exhibit features mammoth copper slices of the Statue of Liberty. It's a mixture of sculptures that date from BC to present day.

"We thought showing these huge fragments of the Statue of Liberty would be just a wonderful thing... to juxtapose contemporary art with ancient art," Emily Teeter, curator, said. Two examples: a piece from 700 BC and another from 2012.

"I think it works," Teeter said.

The Oriental Institute is sponsoring the show in conjunction with the university's Renaissance Society. The five pieces are all to the exact scale of the real statue.

The sculptor's family escaped from Vietnam in search of freedom. Danh Vo now lives in Berlin and is reconstructing the entire statue in pieces.

"Well, the original statue came in pieces from France and this one is being made in China in a similar way. The artist was able to get hold of the blueprints. The original blueprints," Susanne Ghez, director renaissance society at U. of C., "Absolutely."

It's not all that easy to recognize the Statue of Liberty because most of these pieces are replicas of liberty's long garment. So just use your imagination and think big.

The original statue of liberty was in pieces so this does make some sense. But also ... Is there some symbolism here? Did the sculptor have something to say about democracy going to pieces?

"Very much so. I think it's his idea of spreading democracy around the world. Spreading it in bits and pieces. The military states, the wars in the Middle East. And that's a statement coming from somebody who's coming from Vietnam. It's very much a critique of democracy," Hamza Walker, associate curator Renaissance Society, U of C., said.

Ultimately there will be hundreds of such pieces and they will be exhibited around the world.


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