Waterwagon 2007

Joep van Lieshout

polyester and fiberglass

Joep van Lieshout is a Dutch sculptor, installation and conceptual artist, who also makes ‘utility art’. Since 1995 he has been working with a team under the name Atelier van Lieshout. He makes autonomous works of art, and above all objects that move between the borders of visual and applied art. He makes conceptual sculptures such as the ‘Waterwagon’ and sculptures intended to confuse the viewer, hopefully sharpening his view of everyday objects. In this way, he tries to reduce the gap between art and everyday life. All activities of Joep van Lieshout stand for a liberal conception of what art is; even slaughter implements can belong to his domain. Van Lieshout’s production covers every corner of ​​daily survival.

The work of Van Lieshout questions us right in the heart of what art is. For example, how should we characterize his mobile homes? As expressions of architecture, design, or as craft products? It doesn’t bother Lieshout. “I am an artist,” he said, ”what I make is art”. The ‘Waterwagon’ statue is part of Slave City, a completely self-sufficient city where there is no hunger and no one is sick or unemployed. Residents provide the slave labor needed to keep everything running efficiently. Once they are no longer capable of doing so, their organs are sold and the rest recycled into food, biofuel, or compost.

This is ultimately also the fate of the figures who pull the tank and supply the city with indispensable water. Lieshout reduces people to a cog in a well-oiled machine; everything is geared to sustainability and profitability. It is his science fiction in polyester.