In the central Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles, a fifty-metre-tall elephant has been introduced to Place Flagey. The place is an open square where people gather, young children splash around in water fountains, and each weekend a vibrant market transform the square to bustling, throbbing mass of colours, smells, and textures. The sculpture is called a weeping elephant and has been positioned in the northern corner of the place across from the imposing Flagey building that houses a cultural centre and the school of architecture from the Université libre de Bruxelles. The elephant is part sculpture, part performance art, and part provocation and will stand in position from July 12th until September 22nd 2017.
Images courtesy of Anna Plyushteva
The elephant is part of a series called Ode to the Wilderness by Dutch artist Jantien Mook who has been fascinated by rhythms and patterns from childhood. Her love of nature and animals is part of the rationale behind the weeping elephant, looking to explore the subtleties and movements of the natural world. The weeping elephant is a sculpture of an African elephant, made of beech stems, patterns in steel, segments of bark and knots for the eyes.
Jantien Monk explains that the sculpture ‘travels around the world and appears in cities, she ‘weeps’ to make her presence felt’. The elephant provokes the public to think about the daily presence of such creatures and the interactions between nature, animals, and humans. At the same time the weeping elephant is an interesting object that draws attention. Children will play with the sculpture, people sit at the elephant’s feet, and others just enjoying taking pictures as the colours change in sunlight.
The elephant certainly brings about changes in the felt atmosphere of the square, at the same time it helps to make a direct and daily confrontation to people’s awareness and appreciation the role urban places have on the wilderness and wildlife. The elephant will travel around Europe till the end of the year, instigating daily confrontations and atmospheres.