A bold, controversial set of installations that kick over the traces of Versailles’s manicured gardens
Never mind the venue’s traditionalist associations – contemporary art returns to Versailles with a bang this summer. Anish Kapoor’s instantly infamous installation – its most prominent feature is most often likened to a vagina – in the courtyard of the Sun King is a bold attempt to create a dialogue between the history-heavy surroundings and contemporary creative mores. Not to mention the latest entry in a spate of recent artistic furors in Paris (remember the Paul McCarthy’s ‘butt plug’ Christmas tree?) that have drawn howls of outrage from the more conservative elements of French society.
But British artist Kapoor is indifferent to scandal. It was his intention to sow chaos among the manicured flowerbeds of this national institution, and to take the measure of Versailles by defacing it. What role does Versailles take in our collective unconscious, in the ‘democratic’ 21st century, and what darkness can he reveal beneath its surface? Distorting mirrors, disturbing excavations, vortexes leading towards the centre of the earth and sprinklers splashing blood-coloured paint about all make up the allegorical set of six installations in the gardens. A spunky, challenging show that’s irresistibly alive.