Zealandia

Venice, Italy — 2018

In the cool of the pines of Giardino della Marinareassa, where the ships built in the adjacent Arsenale once set sail for the Mediterranean and the world beyond, Zealandia stands with her arms extended skyward, a personification of 'free space' – the overarching theme of the 2018 Venice Biennale. The sculpture combines geometry with the qualities of classical statuary. Standing 2.3m tall, the perfectly proportioned X-figure is both graceful and powerful. The deeply veined stone creates a marbled effect reminiscent of drapery in classical sculpture, especially of the Italian baroque. Patterns snake up the sculpture like muscles or skin, simultaneously primitive and futuristic. The sculpture’s elegant X form re-writes the ‘perfect proportions’ of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (circa 1510), the Renaissance ideal immortalised on the one Euro coin. When replicated in shadow on the ground, the figure creates XX - the female genetic code. Amid global movements demanding gender equality, respect and inclusion for all, Zealandia invites a shift in perception. Standing poised and polished looking out to sea, she becomes a modern day Victory of Samothrace, a Goddess messenger for a new age.