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VANCOUVER, B.C., 24 JANUARY 2006—In September of 2004, John L. Hennessy, President of Stanford University, made the unprecedented decision to reject Device to Root Out Evil, a sculpture that had been commissioned by the President's Panel on Art by the American sculptor Dennis Oppenheim.  Hennessy feared a potential controversy because the sculpture is an inverted church.  In a statement, Hennessy said the piece was "not appropriate" for the campus.

Following this announcement, the local and national press reported a dismayed and sometimes outraged reaction to the President’s verdict from those who felt that the University should not use hidden decisions to avoid controversy.

Now, Oppenheim has announced that the Benfic Foundation, a private foundation, located in Vancouver, British Columbia has purchased "Device to Root Out Evil" for over three-hundred thousand dollars and it is permanently installed at Harbour Green Park, the longest continuous waterfront park in downtown Vancouver.  At the present site, the twenty-five foot aluminum structure shimmers against the waterfront background.  Hand-blown deep red glass shingles and blue-glass windows reflect sunlight during the day  and are illuminated from within at night.  The sculpture's new home enables Vancouver citizens and visitors to permanently enjoy the conversation which Device to Root Out Evil evokes.  The sculpture is part of the The Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale Open Spaces 2005/2006

The artist maintains that his interest is in exploring the dialogue between architecture and sculpture.  Device to Root Out Evil "withdraws functionality from architecture." To those reading religion into the work, he answers that "Turning the church upside down makes it more aggressive, but not blasphemous."

Device to Root Out Evil first gained critical acclaim at the 1997 Venice Biennale.  The Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale is a citywide, eighteen month installation of major public sculpture in parks and downtown business plazas.


Related news article: Stanford Censors Sculpture

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