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
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.
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