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  • Jun 09, 2021

Public sculptures by Joe Namy and Shilpa Gupta vandalized

JOE NAMY’s The Curtain of the Sky (2021) is one of two works that were vandalized at the 2021 Bor

Public sculptures by artists Joe Namy and Shilpa Gupta at the Borås Art Biennial have been vandalized, less than one week from the exhibition’s opening on May 29. Namy shared the news in an Instagram post featuring photographs of the ashen remnants of his commission, which had been installed on a pedestrian bridge over the Viskan River.

According to Namy’s post, people were filmed watching as his large textile installation The Curtain of the Sky (2021), stitched together by recent immigrants to Sweden from clothing donated by local residents, “completely burned down.” The Göteborgs-Posten reported that the piece was set on fire by as-yet-unknown culprit(s) on the evening of June 4. The work’s sound component relates personal narratives of immigrants in Sweden. It is unclear if the audio apparatus was also damaged.

Gupta’s untitled bronze sculpture, of a seated man, was originally installed in a nearby park, at the base of a tree. The figure was removed from the chair and thrown into the Viskan River as early as the night of June 3. Organizers are working to restore Gupta's sculpture, while plans for the reparation of The Curtain of the Sky are yet to be decided.

Namy wrote: “I was told this was most likely done by drunken hooligans . . . But I don’t believe this was only alcohol, this kind of violence comes from a darker place. And I hope there’s some serious healing in the community that can come out of this.”

This year’s edition of the Borås Art Biennial, “Deep listening for longing,” was helmed by Ulrika Flink, artistic director of Stockholm’s Konsthall C, and London-based curator Amanprit Sandhu. Featuring artworks spread across the Borås Art Museum, the Textile Museum of Sweden, and public locations along the Viskan River, the exhibition revolves around notions of collectivity, reciprocity, and mutual understanding, and runs to September 26.

Chloe Morrissey is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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