Els Dietvorst is predominantly known as a video-artist, thematising the existential conditions of loneliness and the relations between human beings and with their environment, earlier on in the rawness of the urban landscape, now on the rural coast of Ireland where she raises sheep. She started as a drawer and a sculptor and earlier on realised impressive figurative works in loam.
Dietvorst realised for and during the biennial a new version of the largest of the loam works she ever made, a huge skull, originally housed in a barrack within a military camp she had succeeded to get access to. The skull was accessible for the public, one could look outside from within it, its teeth were small human figures.
The Skull series are sculptures who symbolically are made as a metaphor for every war. The first sculpture was a huge skull, made of wood and loam, build in my studio in Antwerp (B) which was on that time in the middle of an army base.
The next Skull was made on the roof of the M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp and was a reaction on the War on terror.
“In 2009, on the roof of M HKA in Antwerp, she exhibited the gigantic work Skull, a figure in a cage, fashioned from mud and wood. This powerfully visual work is Dietvorst’s way of reacting to the numerous images of war that the media floods us with. This specific work alludes to Guantanamo; to solitary confinement in cages. Dietvorst made a life-sized model of one of them, inhabited by a gigantic skull. On the roof of the museum, the head appears to be imprisoned in a dovecote, which can be viewed from a nearby bench. After a while, two pigeons built their nest in the cage and hatched out their eggs there – thus a piece about murder facilitates the creation of new life at a totally different level…”(source; Eva Wittocx, ED2)
The third Skull is made in the biennal of Moscow. The form of the Skull is inspired on a skull of a neanderthal man that lived in Eurasia. In that time Neanderthalers and the new immigrants, the homo sapiens, lived peacefully together. More than ever Skull 3 is a symbol for immigration, respect and human transcendence.