In 2005, the Flemish Government Architect´s art unit gave an assignment to eight visual artists from home and abroad, asking them to formulate a proposal for an artwork to be installed on a Flemish roundabout.
With this project the artistic advisors, Piet Coessens and Ulrike Lindmayr, wanted to start a discussion about art on roundabouts, a phenomenon that in past decades was often regarded as a problematic way of filling a public space. Jimmie Durham was one of those artists. This installation is the realisation of his proposal, fourteen years after publication of the study. On a bare, streetlamp-like tree with two dead branches, a vulture stares into the distance. Unperturbed, the bird looks out over the traffic that surrounds him.
In his considerations on art in the public space which accompany the proposal, Durham refers to the Berlin ´Siegessäule´ as a well-known example of art on a roundabout, a nationalistic victory column erected to commemorate a series of Prussian military victories in the second half of the 19th century. Durham notes that public monuments of this kind preach exclusion more than inclusion. He finds that the term ´public art´ is misleading, because it gives the impression that the public is involved in the assignment, while in fact the public is virtually never consulted in advance.
“My work can be regarded as ´interventionist´, because it runs counter to the two foundations of the European tradition: belief and architecture. My work is against the association of art with architecture, with the ´statue´, with monumentality. I want it to be interrogating, and therefore not ´imposing´, not credible”, says Durham.