And Their Spirits Live On, Marianne Heier

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Marianne Heier performed her project And Their Spirits Live On, first at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and then at Oslo’s former Museum of Contemporary Art.
How can a centuries-old plaster cast of a twothousand-year-old sculpture speak to us today?Plaster copies of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures have formed the basis for much of the history of art. Right up until modern times artists in the western tradition learned to draw and shape works from such models. When the National Gallery was built, the central building housed a collection of these classical plaster casts.

Marianne Heier has chosen to make a performance among the plaster copies at the Academy of Art in Milan where she herself studied, and later in the empty bank premises which until recently housed the Museum of Contemporary Art – drawing attention to the potential power in these figures. They are archetypes that we still refer to, although we are often unaware of this. Heier’s performance takes the form of a museum guided tour in which she takes the role of guide, situating the plaster sculptures in wider histories. Using texts taken from classical mythology and political resistance movements, she shows the potentially radical possibilities of the sculptures. The mythology from which these classical figures are taken is full of critiques of power, gender issues and identity politics that perhaps suggest a need for civil courage in the political climate of our own times.

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