And Life Is Over There
Grote Marktstraat, Den Haag
52.077472818801, 4.3149188961868 View on map
There she is. Just like that, stark naked in the centre of The Hague. Apart from breasts, this female figure also has a penis, so she unites both sexes in her. Standing beautifully upright, she balances a small lion-like creature on top of her head, as if she were an Egyptian goddess. Her posture and the smile around her mouth also evoke associations with classical Greek statues (kouroi). Present and past, symbols and reality merge just as easily as the two sexes do. This intriguing image by Femmy Otten is therefore an ode to freedom of thought. The poetic title is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).
Otten worked for four years on her first bronze sculpture for the outdoors and held discussions with her client Stroom Den Haag. Could all this nudity be allowed in the public space? Prudery is spreading more and more. Just plain nudity is no longer allowed. At the same time, literally everyone - including children - has immediate access to all imaginable pornographic images on the Internet. With her sculpture Otten wants to break a lance for natural nudity. It is not my intention to provoke', says Otten in an interview with Anna van Leeuwen in the Volkskrant (9 November 2017). "I don't actually understand how nudity and love can be hurtful.
After a work period at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (2011/2012), Otten won the Volkskrant Sculpture Prize 2013 and the following year she was one of four artists to make a state portrait of the Dutch king. In all of her portraits, wood and plaster sculptures and drawings, Otten manages to transform the very personal into something universal, while scraping and polishing. Otten's extremely meticulous and craftsmanship literally and figuratively slows things down. Lovingly she manages to make our vulnerability visible. That is why Otten's exposure is disarming.