Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ultra by Silvia B

The mysterious and intriguing figure of Ultra an 8-meter high effigy can be found in front of the Cascade-complex on the Emmasingel in Groningen. She was brought to Groningen by boat all the way from Rotterdam and unveiled in October 2004. Ultra is the creation of Silvia B a Rotterdam based artist.

Commissioned by patrons from the private and the public sector, the CBK (Centrum van Beeldende Kunst – The Center of Expressive Art), RGD-Noord, and Amstelland Vastgoed. The project was meant to contradict and contrast with the postmodern architecturally dominated area of the buildings in the Cascade-complex, and to be big enough to be visible at quite a distance. The whole project was realized with a total budget of €200.000.

Ultra was made in cast iron with white polyurethane painted skin and dressed in stainless and corten steel. A study of Celtic and tribal tattoos brought Silvia to the idea of using spiral forms in the skirt and these appear in seven different sizes all over the preformed chicken wire ‘crinoline skirt’, giving it a very realistic effect.

At first glance she seems to represent a very elegant woman in period costume with a palely powdered face, large bustle and crinoline skirt, but on closer examination the piercing just under the bottom lip, the praying mantis spike-like arms on which she supports herself, and her superfluous dangling little legs conjures up images of a futuristic world where the human body seems to have disturbingly mutated.

Silvia B’s inspiration for this image comes from the present day scientific developments, which contribute to the ‘make able’, person. As to her thought processes when creating and producing her work Silvia says: ‘I work on the borders of beauty. Fusing conflicting elements, the sculptures question our current concept of aesthetics’. Nevertheless this anti beauty does has an imposing charm.

More of Silvia B’s work can been seen on her website here

© Alison Day
First published in the Connections magazine #10 Winter 2006 

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