Room XX by Miquel Barceló

on november 18th, the spanish government officially presented miquel barceló’s latest art installation in the UN’s palace of nations in geneva. the controversial work of art is a massive sculptural installation located on the domed ceiling of the building’s newly created human rights and alliance of civilizations chamber. the work consists of multi-coloured stalactite forms that appear to be dripping from the ceiling. however controversy over how the work was paid for has overshadowed its artistic significance.

miquel barceló’s work often features natural elements and imagery but the chamber’s ceiling takes this idealiterally by recreating the natural stalactite forms, albeit through the artist’s lens. barceló has revealed that the concept for the project came to him while he was in africa. at the unveiling barceló explained, ‘on a day of immense heat in the middle of the sahel desert, I recall with vivacity the mirage of an image of the world dripping toward the sky’. the vivid idea later took shape as he
planned out the work.

after 13 months of work the ceiling of the UN chamber was complete. the ceiling’s total area measures a whopping 4,600 square feet and is completely covered in the special plaster and paint. the work’s size is soexpansive that it is impossible to see it in its entirety. because the sculpture is so large, viewers are forced to circle around the room. as they move around the room and the sculpture the directional painting technique comes into play. the piece’s appearance alters depending on the viewer’s perspective in the room. For example, the piece may appear predominately grey looking from one location, while from another it may appear multi-coloured.

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