Posts Tagged ‘Kienholz’

The Hoerengracht: National Gallery

In art|BOOK on November 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Ed and Nancy Kienholz’s installation, The Hoerengracht, brings Amsterdam’s Red Light District to Sunley Room at London’s National Gallery.

The installation represents the district’s notorious “whore’s canal” and is not a particularly attractive sight.  Dutch alleyways are filled with plain-faced female life-size figures posing in  Brothel windows.

Taking 5 years to complete, The Hoerengracht is a dark and compelling piece that reveals the realities of prostitution as it was in the 1980’s. Nancy Kienholz described the work as a catalyst which “opened up discussion” about the issue of selling sex in the Western World.  She claims that, “it’s certainly something that is there in every major city in the western world,” and that, “any taxi driver in any city can tell you where it is.”

It is very rare for the National Gallery to display such a contemporary installation.  However, the curator Colin Wiggins describes the method in this madness.  The Hoerengracht can cast a significant light on the other works present at London’s prestigous gallery.  Many of the works displayed (dated from the 17th century) reflect on prostitution, but most of them look “safe and pretty”.  Godfried Schiecken’s A Man Offering Gold shows a woman sitting on a bed while being given money by a man as Cupid overlooks them.  The purpose of The Hoerengracht is to force upon the spectator a three dimensional representation of the 1980’s Red Light District, provocative and dominated by the sex industry.

The Hoerengracht installation can be  seen from 18 Nov 2009 – 21 Feb 2010 at the Sunley Room, National Gallery.

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