“I wanted Big Bird to have an agency.” | Artist Alex Da Corte | Louisiana Channel

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“This is about agency. It’s about the capacity to stay or go or build your home in new places.” American artist Alex Da Corte introduces his sculpture ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ (2021), in which we meet Big Bird looking over their surrounding landscape from a crescent moon.

Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and shown on the museum’s rooftop in New York, Alex Da Corte’s sculpture ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ has travelled from the United States to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Inspired in part by Caspar David Friedrich’s iconic work ‘Wanderer Above of the Sea of Fog’ (1818), Big Bird too gazes at the world before its feet: “I think this work is about an empathetic outlook towards the world,” Da Corte explains. “The Big Bird character becomes a sort of stand-in for someone looking for a home or looking for a place they feel comfortable with.” The sculpture was initially created during the pandemic when most people were forced to stay within their homes. Now the large sculpture takes the place of Alexander Calder’s ‘Little Janey-Waney’ (1964/1976). “I was looking at Calder and the way in which his mobiles are contained, as one is contained in a home, but also free if they are outside, of course.”

Big Bird is known from the popular children’s television show Sesame Street, created by Jim Henson. We’re used to seeing a yellow bird on the TV show, but in a film from 1985 called ‘Follow That Bird’, Big Bird is captured and painted blue when out on a quest to find their home. “I was curious about this kind of collision where one quite literally is wearing their heart on their sleeve,” Alex Da Corte says, referring to how ‘blue’ also can be a feeling. Changing the color of Big Bird on the sculpture “begs you to look more sharply and say: ‘Was this always blue? Or was that person just blue underneath their outer shell?”

The sculpture’s title is inspired by a short story by Italian author Italo Calvino in which a couple go back and forth between the Earth and the Moon using a ladder. While looking more sharply, as Da Corte suggests, the viewer will also notice Big Bird holding a ladder: “I didn’t want Big Bird to be trapped up there. I didn’t want this blue bird to be purged there without any freedom to go or any freedom to stay.” The ladder underlines Big Bird’s agency: “I wanted Big Bird to have this agency to say: I can come and be on the Moon. I can think. I can be free. And then I can come back to Earth as I desire.”

Alex da Corte (b. 1980) was raised in Venezuela and the United States and now lives and works in Philadelphia. He has mounted solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; and MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, among many others. Group show and festival appearances include the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; MoMA PS1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Venice and Lyon Biennales. In 2022 Alex Da Corte will present a large scale 20-year survey exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. For more, see http://alexdacorte.com/

Alex Da Corte was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. The work ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ is shown in connection to Alex Da Corte’s solo exhibition at the museum from July 14 2022, until January 8 2023.

Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Drone footage: Rasmus Quiestgaard
Additional footage: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Photos credit for Alex Da Corte’s ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts’ (2021)
As installed in The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 16 – October 31, 2021.
Courtesy of the artist, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and Sadie Coles HQ, London

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

#AlexDaCorte #AsLongastheSunLasts

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