1 October 2012

The Giant Slugs of Angers

Angers is a beautiful and historic city 300km south west of Paris. Its universities and museums help to offer its citizens a rich cultural life which spans many centuries but remains vibrantly contemporary. Yet even the cultivated Angevins may not have been prepared for an invasion of giant slugs, the latest work by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.

Hofman is renowned for his giant installations – we featured his big yellow rabbit in the Swedish town of Örebro last year. For Angers' recent Hanging Hearts Festival, Hofman created a pair of giant, dazzlingly multi-colored slugs.

They were positioned on a quiet road leading towards the center of the city, known as the Athens of the West. The seasoned gardeners of Angers (pronounced a little like onj-air) may have had something approaching a heart attack at the sight of two colossal slugs, making a beeline for their shrubberies.

Yet the destruction of domestic horticultural labor was not the job with which the enormous pair was tasked. Created from 40,000 plastic bags, the shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusks (aka slugs) set their direction to the north, which coincidentally was the theme of this year’s festival.

They certainly turned heads from more than one direction. Each was eighteen meters in length, five in width and thanks to their optical tentacles a lofty seven and a half meters in height. Forget the usual drab shade of their living relatives; the pair came resplendent in shades from pink to blue to green. No mistaking it, these were definitely party slugs.

They deserved some merrymaking after the arduous process involved in their creation. The planning took up an immense period of time and then came the sketching and model making phase. Next, Hofman created the enormous metal frames in his Rotterdam based studio. Then they travelled over five hundred kilometers to Angers where the frames were reconstructed and welded. Finally, the bags were, one by one, secured to the frame. Not quite eh voila as the French would say.

Hofman’s work is not to everyone’s taste and it would probably be a boring world if it were. Yet I have to admit that I have delighted in his past works, from the giant rubber duck to the equally enormous Swedish rabbit. Yet I scratched my head a little when I was told that Hofman’s latest installation was a pair of slugs. It was an irrelevant scratch. The giant slugs of Angers are an irrepressible expression of joyful, almost childlike ingenuity.

I am grateful, however, that Hofman chose to show these slugs as a companionable and platonic pair. You really, really don’t want to see what happens when slugs get horny.

Kuriositas would like to thank Florentijn Hofman for his very kind permission allowing us to reproduce the above photographs. Please click on any of the above images or visit his website for more – and to see his many other installation projects.