On ‘The Pathfinder’–
John Robinson’s ‘The Pathfinder’ was originally commissioned in 1973 by Conzinc Riotinto for a new building, but was donated to the City of Melbourne when this building failed to go ahead. The statue depicts an Olympic hammer thrower. Since its installation, the hammer has been stolen (then replaced) a number of times. Today the City of Melbourne no longer replaces the hammer and the statue sits in a permanent state of disrepair. The statue is located directly opposite Victoria’s premier art gallery (the NGV) in the epicenter of Melbourne’s art precinct. Although Melbourne is often billed as a cultural city, this statue has come to symbolize neglect for public art by our governing institutions.
On the afternoon of 13/11/2011 I replaced the missing hammer with a new hammer and renamed the statue ‘Atlas’ by planting a new plaque next to the original (while wearing a high visibility vest and setting up some orange cones).
On ‘Altas’ –
During the modernist era, the earth dwarfed the capacities of man. As an example, people gave little consideration to things like pollution: why would they? The sky seemed infinite and the earth limitless relative to man’s capability to affect any change to them. Man could only feebly struggle to hold the earth across his back; one slip or a moments respite and the earth could crush man beneath its immense burden. At the pinnacle of man’s engineering achievements a new paradigm began to emerge. Nuclear proliferation meant that man had the capability to destroy the earth. As human eyes gazed upon the earth over the horizon of the moon, it appeared small and fragile within the universe, and a new realization dawned in the mind of man: with the tool of industrialization the capacity of man had eclipsed the influence of the earth. True or not, the narrative that pervades society today is that man has crafted a homo-centric universe, and can wield the earth, often with cavalier abandon.