The artwork Cosa by Judi Werthein


Description and Analysis
Work’s use of the systems of global capitalism
Relationship to the global system of exhibiting art in biennials and institutions
The symbolism of the elephant and of air

Cosa is an artwork that can be compared to air of any given city. This is usually demonstrated in form of an artificial elephant made in China. Cosa can also be described as a piece that has the ability to reach out to any part of the world and has the ability to fill an unoccupied space and has the ability to change its shape. Due to its nature and design it does not have the ability to fit in aoony room.

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According to Katrib, the current society is dominated by the media and the internet (Werthein and Erlich 34). Therefore a question arises as to why art is made even at times when what is seen is not exactly what it actually is. The artists therefore apply different interpretations of images all of which are correct depending on the circumstances.

They aim at perceiving things that are not seen by the through both candid and sarcastic ways. A single artwork carries more than one message or interpretation concerning the contemporary issues affecting the society. It only depends from which angle it is visualized.

Judi Werthein, in her work, ‘compresses’ the sculpture of the elephant to fit in a very small room. However, when removed and inflated, it achieves its original size and shape. Within the enclosed space (most probably by walls), bubbling of the confined animal can be heard. The sculpture inflates and deflates at regular intervals hence providing a hissing sound that is cadenced in nature. Much as an observer may hear this, it quite unlikely that he or she can figure out its ultimate potential in terms of size.

It can in other words be compared to a sleeping giant. In this way, she is able to depict an artwork that is not necessarily visible but one that is portrayed in the mind of the spectator. It is therefore up to the spectator to try and visualize it out in his or her mind (Tellez and Werthein 259).

In her work, Judi makes symbolism an integral aspect of her designs. Taking the case of Cosa (thing), much as it is made in China, air from different parts of the world can be used to inflate it. This therefore means that the sculpture is not only relevant to China, but to all the countries of the world. It is a perfect fit in the description of it as moving freely all over the world (Tellez and Werthein 8).

Her best symbolism may be attributed to her documentary on Colonia Dignidad, which is a German territory in Aracuaria in Chile that is highly protected. In this region, we have a smaller society within a larger one where the most prevalent customs are German ones. Archaic lifestyles are still maintained in this place, for instance children have to attain an age close to adulthood before they can learn Spanish.

Since the society has boundaries that separate from the rest of the world, it acted as a refuge for people including Walter Rauss, a Gestapo officer that was at one time a criminal of war. The normal activities of the society go on inside yet those outside may not have an understanding of what takes place. All they can do is speculate.

This can be compared to Judi’s elephant sculpture enclosed by the walls in that though inside it is only a matter of inflation and deflation, spectators can have a varied set of speculation of what happens in there. It is also worth noting that they may not clearly make out how the sculpture will look when it is let out.

This can be compared to the fact that contrary to the town being small, it is capable of big things, for instance, provision of refuge for Walter Rauss (Skar 1).

Most of Judi’s works reflect critical issues of different dimensions of life such as love, politics, war, and oppression among others. She uses her creativity in art to vividly excavate what is hidden in the general view of the society. In my opinion she has distinguished herself as a dynamic artist whose art endures both the test of time and space.

Works Cited

Skar, Brian. “Strange Manifestations.” Artnet Online Magazine. Web. 03 Oct. 2010.

Tellez, Javier and Judi Werthein. “Migratory Zoology.” Numero Cero_04. San Juan: 2da Trienal Poli/Grafica de San Juan: America Latina y el Caribe, 2009.

Tellez, Javier and Judi Werthein. “Migratory Zoology.” Review 77: Literature and Arts of The Americas 41. 2 (2008): 259-264.

Werthein, Judi and Leandro Erlich. Turismo: La Habana, Cuba. New York: Kent Gallery, 2001.


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