Several years ago, the Swedish Ljungqvist Foundation selected me, out of eight internationally renowned sculptors, to create a monument for Clean Sports. Professor Arne Ljungqvist, an Olympic high jumper and a physician, has dedicated his life to the fight for anti-doping, and the monument was designed to honor his legacy and spread the cause.
I was grateful for the opportunity to create a visual icon for the message. First, the assignment fit my body of work, which has focused on large and expressive hands. Secondly, since I installed the 9/11 Memorial outside Philadelphia a few years earlier, I became convinced that monuments should carry a message for the future, and thirdly, I was a proponent of the Foundation’s mission for change. I felt that although breaking records is in our DNA, we must resist any temptation for unfair advantages that involve dishonesty and unhealthy methods. Taking a false path endangers our climb to the top, and without a moral compass we cannot survive.
Concept and Description:
The universal gesture of Number One, known across continents and time, inspired me to envision a seven-foot bronze hand thrusting dynamically into the sky. To signify the winner’s purity, I inserted a polished gold circle at the end of the raised index finger, where blood is drawn. The gold circle signified that the winner’s blood was pure, and that he or she passed the “gold standard”. Bjorn Bertoft, the communications director of the foundation, named the monument “Et Purus” (Latin for and Clean) to state that any “Number One” is also “pure”.
The foundation plans Et Purus as an edition of twenty for different sites around the world. The same sculpture of hand will rise on top of different bases throughout. The sameness of the hand will create a wave of strength from place to place, while different artistic bases, each especially designed for its unique location, will make every monument “site-specific”.
The first Et Purus is planned for the grounds of the Royal Palace in Monaco, and the second, for the Stadium in Solna, Stockholm. The completion of the two monuments is scheduled for 2021.
Et Putus #1: The Royal Palace, Monaco:
I felt that the monument in Monaco should respond to the unique international prominence of the site, as well as express the supreme standing of HSH Prince Albert II, as Monaco’s leader, a patron of the arts and a global advocate for clean sports.
For a worldly magnitude, I placed the seven-foot hand on a globe. I limited the monument height to ten feet in order preserve the contact between the viewer and the hand. To add grandeur to the three-feet tall base, I exposed the globe only from the North Pole to the Mediterranean, creating the impression as if it rose from underneath, and having the viewer’s mind’s eye complete it to a much larger shape. The gold circle at the index finger was echoed at the bottom. On a dark ring around the base of the truncated globe, golden bronze letters told the story. The text, divided into four segments, would entice the viewer to circle the entire monument and fully absorb its image and message.
Et Putus #2: Solna Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden:
The site of Et Purus #2 is quite unique. The monument was planned for the plaza in front of the 55,000-capacity stadium, the largest in Scandinavia. I was inspired by the contemporary image of the stadium, which owed its design source to the Roman arena, and felt that like the stadium, the base for the hand should be timeless and classical. I chose the circle as my inspiration.
I developed the circle into a truncated cone. At the top, the circle was of a ten-foot diameter, and at two feet below, it extended to fourteen feet. I saw the truncated cone in polished bronze patinated lightly, reflecting the plaza, the sky and the viewers. The truncated cone rose off a black granite base that increased the outer diameter of Et Purus #2 to eighteen feet. The black granite provided opportunities to meet, linger and interact with the message of the monument that followed the circumference at the top. The base would entice the viewer to circle, view the monument from all sides and absorb the important message and its story, specific to the site.