Feeling like a bee, getting inside a giant octopus, taking a joyride down a 100-meter-tall slide. Do you still think contemporary art is boring?


Vancouver, Canada

Douglas Coupland. Digital Orca

An unusual monument, installed in the Vancouver Harbour in 2009, resembles merely a funny giant Lego model: one is tempted to try and assemble its replica using little bricks. Still, this artwork by the Canadian writer, artist and researcher, who focuses primarily on a constantly changing society, has a slightly deeper implication. Coupland sees this killer whale’s leap as a jump from past to future, symbolizing something natural and archaic seen through brand new tech and hinting at changes British Columbia is currently undergoing.

London, Great Britain

Anish Kapoor, Cecil Balmond, Carsten Höller. The ArcelorMittal Orbit

The city inherited Britain’s highest piece of public art from the 2012 Olympics. This 115-meter-tall tower equipped with an observation platform is considered (at least by its authors) to be distantly resembling The Tower of Babel. It used to arouse lots of public discussion – apparently, until its critics tried its world’s longest and fastest spiral slope: 12 turns in 40 seconds are capable of putting an end to any doubts.

Berlin, Germany

Peter Eisenman, Richard Serra. The Holocaust Memorial

Located between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, this enormous site with 2,711 grey stelae produces a truly overwhelming impression. It is even more striking when a visitor is taking a walk among the cenotaphs of various sizes, feeling by themselves what plunging into isolation and no longer seeing the outer logic it is like. Below the monument there is an information center featuring photos and stories of people, who fell the victim of the 1933–1945.

Duisburg, Germany

Heike Mutter, Ulrich Genth. Tiger & Turtle – Magic Mountain

This wildly twisting work of art was installed in 2011. Common Duisburg dwellers see it as a good chance to exercise and enjoy the surroundings. At the same time, this postmodernist hybrid prompts searches for meaning and interpretations among art experts. Does it belong to entertainment sphere (this is a roller coaster after all, although for pedestrians) or does it make a mockery of it? This might visualize the region's economy, right? This is a steel structure, while the city is a famous metallurgical hub. And why is the mountain magic? Isn’t it because it made possible the revival of this industrial site? Anyway, 249 steps provide a great chance to find out whether one is a tiger or a turtle.

London, Great Britain

Wolfgang Buttress. The Hive

British bees are buzzing in the key of C – this is what musicians realized, while composing a soundtrack for a giant interactive hive, installed in Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in 2016. Initially, this piece of art was made as the British Pavilion for the Expo-2015 that took place in Milan. Then it turned into a visual aid, demonstrating life of busy insects to its visitors. The Hive is made of 170,000 aluminum pieces, resembling honeycomb. The most important, however, is that it is connected to recorders of vibrations from real bees, inhabiting Kew Gardens. Depending on how active they are, the Hive plays music, based on interpretation of bees buzzing. At nighttime, LED lights are on.

Bilbao, Spain

Jeff Koons. Puppy

A flower dotted puppy is just an embodiment of sentimentality: this upbeat masterpiece of one of the most well-known contemporary sculptors is at the same time a reverence for European garden art of the 18th century and a hint at contemporary popular culture striving for schmaltz. Before settling down near Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum in 1997, the 13-meter flower-covered terrier managed to travel across the globe. On the inside there is a steel frame and a built-in watering system, on the outer side it contains 20,000–60,000 flower plants: if you see a puppy in May you will hardly then recognize it in July. A copy of this celebrity dog was commissioned by Peter Brant, a US media mogul and art collector, and is currently on display at the Brant Foundation in Connecticut.

Charlottenlund, Denmark

Jeppe Hein. Semicircular Mirror Labyrinth II

In 2013, the Danish Ordrupgaard Art Museum, located several kilometers north of Copenhagen, launched its art park with this open-air exhibit. The mirror installation is not the artist's first, but definitely one of the most impressive attempts to play with reflection and space. The labyrinth has six walls, but they are twisted and located in such a manner, that a viewer may see not only himself, but also reflections from the neighboring polished steel sections. A head-spinning impression is guaranteed – no wonder kids love it.

Shenzhen, China

Florentijn Hofman. Kraken

The works of this Dutch artist are said to be healing for the soul. Well, they do offer a swift return to childhood, as Hofman would float an enormous big-eyed hippo along the Thames River, or drop a 14-meter-tall bunny onto a central square of a respectable Swedish town, or release giant, vivid and colorful slugs to graze on the streets of a French city. His most well-known artwork is the huge yellow rubber duck that was launched in 2007 and has undergone multiple reincarnations since then. As for his most astounding new works, one could mention an octopus-shaped playground, named after a legendary sea monster.

Batumi, Georgia

Tamar Kvesitadze. Man and Woman

These figures, located at the promenade of Batumi, not only impress as a landmark, but also mesmerize passers-by with their meditative action. The 7-meter giants approach each other, exchange their kiss, then pass through and part, without looking at each other. This plot is by all means eternal — though, the author was inspired by a particular love story – the one that took place amid tragic events in the early 20th century, involving a Georgian girl and an Azerbaijani boy. A mysterious author known as Kurban Said related it in his book "Ali and Nino" and the locals gave the names of the novel's protagonists to the much-admired sculptural couple.


By Alena Tveritina

Published on: June 24, 2018