Middelheimmuseum/Kunst in de Stad

Public Figure is an annual commission by the Antwerp Public Art Collection (Kunst in de Stad), inviting artists to make a new public sculpture that is presented in the Stadspark. Prompted by the question “Who or what do we put on a pedestal today?”.

Artist Iván Argote (1983, Colombia, lives and works in Paris) presents “Antipodo" a new bronze sculpture depicting a human figure, but something about their stance is atypical. By placing the feet of the figure in the opposite direction, Argote references pre-modern ideas about the appearance of people living “on the other side of the earth”.

Often depicted as semi-monstrous, these figures reflected a certain apprehension towards the idea of the “other". The word antipode (anti - opposite, pode - feet) emerged in the ancient Greek to designate a territory on the other side of the world, during the middle ages the sense of the word was interpreted as "with feet opposite". Curiously these characters with inverted feet also appear in pre-Columbian mythologies, like the “Curupira", a forest guardian in Brazil.

Argote’s figure, gender ambiguous and sculpted out of clay, walks graciousluy forward (or backwards?), in or out of the pedestal, with a sort of pride and calm joy. At the end of the day we are all antipodes of each other, we walk the city, the Stadspark and our lives in multiple ways, having in common our togetherness on this planet.