6 settembre 2008
Irish Examiner
Conor Kane
Vandals attack artist’s images
“For me, the reaction so far in Waterford is very good because people are talking about the theme of war and exploitation. For a child to grow up now, it’s the toughest time ever because children are flooded with violence in the media and internet and computer games where the only thing to do is kill people and they are very graphic. Entertainment is very violent but as long as it’s entertainment, it’s fine, but as soon as you do it as art, people get very sensitive. In my art I’m only reflecting the world and I wanted to raise awareness and make people think.”
THE artist behind a controversial series of installations in Waterford has put an act of vandalism against one of his pieces down to “porter rather than principle”.
Vandals slashed one of the large-scale images created by Austrian-born Gottfried Helnwein at John Roberts Square in the city centre sometime on Thursday night. The damaged picture was of a little girl lying on the ground, apparently dead, covered with blood.
It is one of 18 in an exhibition mounted by Mr Helnwein around Waterford’s public areas as part of the city’s Fringe Festival. Some of the images, which include portrayals of children carrying guns and in death-like poses, have stirred objection among locals.
However, the artist said yesterday that he didn’t think the vandalism caused to one of the more divisive images represented an objection to his work.
“I think it was down to Guinness — I don’t think it was a protest against the work, but some young people hanging around.”
Asked if he was disappointed with the incident, he said: “No, not at all. If you put your work in public space, then of course you have to take responsibility for the consequences. People have the right to respond and react.”
The exhibition is aimed at highlighting the plight of children who get caught up in war situations worldwide. Mr Helnwein dismissed claims from some parents that his latest work, titled The Last Child, was unsuitable for city centre staging as it could be seen by children.
“For me, the reaction so far in Waterford is very good because people are talking about the theme of war and exploitation. For a child to grow up now, it’s the toughest time ever because children are flooded with violence in the media and internet and computer games where the only thing to do is kill people and they are very graphic. Entertainment is very violent but as long as it’s entertainment, it’s fine, but as soon as you do it as art, people get very sensitive. In my art I’m only reflecting the world and I wanted to raise awareness and make people think.”
Director of the Waterford Fringe Festival, Jim Gordon, said that just three of the 18 images in the exhibition featured blood.
“This is to make people think and to wonder why we have violence in the world.”
The last Child
2008
The last Child
digital print, 2008




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