© David John - Flickr: DavenJohn


Water works: Thames-based artworks deciphered

Posted at 3:30 pm, September 9, 2014 in Fun London
Hippo in Thames, Nine Elms

It’s been a week of Thames-based artworks. But what do they all mean? Time Out’s answer to Sister Wendy Beckett, Eddy Frankel, gives you a critique

Florentijn Hofman, ‘HippopoThames’

What is the work?
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman has built a giant, wooden, floating hippo, which travelled down the Thames and has now taken up residence at Nine Elms.
And what is its meaning? 
The hippo represents the bloated greed of modern society. It’s an allegory for the corrupt banking system, a visual metaphor for the boundless gluttony of the average Bristish consumer. It courses its way down the river, a conceptual representation of avarice. Wait, hold on: it’s just a hippo, sorry.

© A K Purkiss.

Alexander Costello, ‘Making Progress’

What is the work?
Artist Alexander Costello strapped himself to the front of a canal barge from September 4 to 7 and sailed down the Regent’s Canal from Camden to Tottenham.
And what is its meaning?
Costello pointed forward for the duration of the journey. The gesture indicates an impending, inevitable future: as the barge travels, land that was once far becomes close. It’s a touching deconstruction of the nature of death, the ontological state of mourning and the inexorable pulse of Freud’s thanatos. Or maybe he’s just really into ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.


 The Tourist © Lee Acaster

Lee Acaster, ‘Tourist’

What is the work?
Photographer Lee Acaster’s snap of a goose with the London skyline behind it has won top prize at the British Wildlife Photography Awards.
But what is its meaning?
The goose, gazing away from the viewer, seems distant and forlorn. It walks forward but looks to the side as if undecided, emotionally torn between two bleak states – a situation mirrored in the grim, grey background. It’s an image that embodies the battle between nature and humanity, the struggle between the rural and the urban. Seriously.

Like the river? You’ll want to know all about Totally Thames festival then.

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