The Sculpture (which is a Weapon)
Sculpture, Performance, 2008
The Sculpture (which is a Weapon) is a functioning one-armed torsion driven catapult. Its power comes from the rope that runs through the machine and is twisted with gears on each side. The ammunition is a four kilo iron ball. It is directed toward the wall of the gallery, which it is built to destroy, and does not really threaten the viewers.
Historically the torsion driven catapult was abandoned as soon as the counter weight catapult was invented, because of its tendency to destroy itself when fired. The tension in the machine when loaded can also cause the construction to to crack if it it is not strong enough for the power withheld in it.
When constructing The Sculpture (which is a Weapon) I was not aiming to recreate any historical weapon, but to build as powerful a weapon as my resources and the practical circumstances of the gallery space allowed. I contacted specialists of various fields such as contemporary weapon engineers, a specialist in historical weapons, carpenters and industrial workers with special skills for construction or for creating the metal details needed. Putting their knowledge and advice together I could construct a weapon that was as powerful as my resources allowed and that was reasonably safe to show indoors.
Some risk is unavoidable as the sculpture was exhibited loaded. I presented the viewer with the prohibition of firing the catapult, and that it has to be treated like a loaded weapon. As the viewer speculates over the possibilities of transgressing the rule and of whether the institution really has allowed a risk which it does not protect us from, our expectations of the institution and its responsibility is made visible.
Among the people who helped me was Ingvar Bratt a former engineer at Bofors, a defense and weapon industry company located in Karlskoga. He is also known as the informant who revealed the illegal smuggling of weapons to Bahrein and Dubai in 1984. The scandal that followed made it impossible for Ingvar to continue living in his hometown Karlskoga. Ingvar helped me with the ballistic calculations I needed to find out whether the sculpture would actually be able to destroy the gallery wall.
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