Unveiling new sculpture Femmy Otten in The Sculpture Gallery

And Life Is Over There

Saturday 21 October 2017, 17.15 hrs
Location: Kalvermarkt (behind City Hall), The Hague
Everyone is welcome!
Before the start of Museumnacht Den Haag
(from 20 hrs there will be a special program near the sculpture)

Since 1990 Stroom Den Haag has developed a unique Sculpture Gallery in the city center of The Hague. On Saturday 21 October we will add a new sculpture on the Kalvermarkt, And Life Is Over There by The Hague-based artist Femmy Otten. It is her first bronze sculpture in public space. In this totem-like and gender-blending sculpture various visual cultures are united. In all its peacefulness and vulnerability, the work is a statement about freedom of thought.

During Museumnacht Den Haag (also on 21 October), there will be a performance by Connor Schumacher near the sculpture, an interactive dance-installation that will literally set your body in motion. Each performance lasts about 20/30 minutes. Starting times are on the hour, from 20 until 24 hrs (midnight).

The work of Femmy Otten has many references to art from ancient Greece, Egypt, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Her magical universe is inhabited by mysterious, hybrid beings with elements of man, God and animal. Although her work often has an autobiographical feel, her sculptures are imbued with a classical and universal value.

Her new sculpture has references to nudes from classic Greek sculpture and is both male and female. For Otten this is the most ideal state of being: "The Greek god Hermaphroditus was literally merged with his beloved. Ever since I started drawing and making my work genders have effortlessly merged into each other. For me this feels very natural. I can identify with the one or with the other. To me it feels strange to view men and women as separate entities - we are so deeply involved with each other and our lives are so intertwined. I myself feel a deep urge to blend."
The nakedness and sexual ambiguity of And Life Is Over There also addresses issues like daring to be different and being allowed to be different. In this way the artist wants to generate a freedom of thought. She is not literally talking about the transgender, but more about the idea that everything should be allowed, also when it is different from the norm. That nudity is very natural and can be very disarming, that different genders and cultures can be united, that there is also a great tenderness in this completeness. Otten: "In this sculpture I was very much concerned with finding the right posture, it had to be perfectly natural. No shame and no explicit pride - to me that was very important."

The title of the sculpture, And Life is Over There, is a stanza from the love poem I Cannot Live With You by the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). The titles of Otten's work often refer to the poetry of Dickinson, in which she recognizes a feeling of loneliness, longing and disappointment and a desire to be (set) free.
Femmy Otten (Amsterdam, 1981), lives and works in The Hague. After graduating from academies in The Hague and Ghent she was a resident artist at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. In 2013 Otten was the winner of de Volkskrant Beeldende Kunstprijs and a year later she was one of the artists selected by the Dutch government to make an official portrait of King Willem-Alexander. Her work was included in various exhibitions in Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam; at Stroom Den Haag (2012); the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015) and Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (2016). Recently she had a solo exhibition in the Ketelfactory in Schiedam (2017).

The Sculpture Gallery in The Hague is a concept and design by P. Struycken. Through its permanent character and yearly commissions it offers a unique format for art in public space and offers a cross section of Dutch sculpture since 1990. Curator of The Sculpture Gallery is André Kruysen. Project supervisor on behalf of Stroom is Vincent de Boer, advisor and coordinator art and public space.

Femmy Otten, design sculpture (detail)
Femmy Otten in her studio