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Charlotte, North Carolina

David Černý's Metalmorphosis

A psychological self-portrait in the form of a segmented giant head  

Controversial Czech artist David Černý isn’t afraid of pissing people off. He jumpstarted his anti-government notoriety in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank in a Prague war memorial pink. The act scandalized Czech society.

Not to be tamed, Černý followed up his insertion into the public conscious with large-scale sculptures of, for example, two massive, naked backsides. Černý almost always encourages his viewers to interact with the art, and, in this piece, the observer can climb a ladder and stick his or her head inside the sculpture’s pristine, white buttholes. Another famous Černý sculpture is of two men urinating famous saying from Prague residents into a small pond. Viewers can interact with this piece by texting their own messages for the sculpture to memorialize in a uniquely special way.

In comparison with his other works, Metalmorphosis, a mirrored sculpture housed in the Whitehall Technology Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, is tame and seemingly apolitical. The creation consists of nearly 40 steel pieces grouped into 7 segments which independently rotate 360-degrees, and the mouth spits water into a huge pool in which it sits. When the segments are aligned, the sculpture appears to be a giant, silver head complete with the usual fixtures in their regular places.

When the motorized, internet-controlled segments are rotating, the result is an oddly mesmerizing perpetually moving showpiece which alternately looks like a human head–with disturbing, gaping holes where the mouth or eyes should be–or, alternately, like nothing replicated in the physical world. The reflecting pool beneath the sculpture creates an even more muddled reflection.

Perhaps drawing on the quickly-shifting and revolving literary universe of fellow Czech artist, Franz Kafka, Černý notes the Metalmorphosis as something of a self-portrait of his own psyche. Maybe. Part of Černý’s rebellious artistic temperament includes creating a falsified biography of himself for the media. Whether or not it’s absolutely true, regarding the piece, Černý said,” This is how I feel; it is a mental self-portrait.”

Appropriate for a technology park and perhaps a dig at the constant surveillance of modern culture, you can watch the head rotate - all day, everyday - on a webcam constantly pinned on it.

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