Jörg Plickat Sculpture by the Sea: Divided Planet unites

Jörg Plickat at Sculpture by the Sea
Jörg Plickat at Sculpture by the Sea | © Jochen Gutsch

An artwork that challenges perceptions of what we place value on and what we strive for: Jörg Plickat was able to convince the judging panel with his entry Divided Planet. The 2015 Macquarie Group Sculpture Prize, which is worth 60,000 Australian dollars, has been awarded to the German sculptor. Each year the prize is handed out as part of the popular open-air exhibition Sculpture by the Sea. For about two and a half weeks the exhibition showcases the sculptures at Sydney's city beaches, along the famous Coogee to Bondi walk.

Congratulations Jörg! You have just been recognized with the coveted 2015 Macquarie Group Sculpture Prize for Divided Planet. This makes you the first German artist to receive this honour. What does this award mean to you?

This is truly a great honour for me. Australia is now the fourth continent my work is represented in. This year marks my third entry, and it has been received quite positively. It actually feels like a fairytale. I am honestly delighted.

An international perspective

Yes, I have read that this is not your first time here. What is your connection with Sculpture by the Sea?

My orientation is quite international. I have shown works in America, Asia, Europe, like I mentioned in many different countries, like China, Japan and Korea. I had heard a lot of positive things about this exhibition. Because of that I applied a few times and three years ago it worked out for the first time.

And I was lucky. My piece had already sold prior to the Opening. A great success, as the entry requires a lot of expenditure. The sculptures have to be dissembled, have to fit into the shipping container, they have to be welded back together, papers have to be filled in, you sit in an office for almost a month – a lot of preparation goes into it. Transport alone costs between seven and eight thousand dollars.

Is all of this expenditure financed by the artists themselves?

Yes, all at one’s own expense, often up front and also at the risk of having to transport the sculpture all the way back.

No time for the big issues

In your case this won’t be necessary anymore. After the exhibition Divided Planet will be permanently installed in Mosman. Tell us a little bit about Divided Planet, the artwork that has been recognized.

Well, this is a topic that has moved me the past two years: that no matter in which system or in which country, politics are always just orientated for the short term.

Two years ago I thought back to the turn of the millennium, when one was full of hope that now finally the big issues of our planet would be tackled. Climate change, to try somehow to slow down the rise of the sea level, to fight against hunger and thrust in the world…but instead we now find ourselves in a situation which is getting bogged down further and further. The world is more and more divided into power blocs and each bloc, no matter which one - there is no good or bad ones - each practices quite chauvinistic, egoistic, national politics. Now we see conflict, in Africa anyways, in the Middle East, which expand further and further, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the Ukraine most recently perhaps in the South China Sea.

And what actually really matters – climate change, environmental pollution – is not tackled at all. Nobody has time for that.

For that we have the arts and you. So you can convey your perception to the beholder.

Right. That‘s the idea. The last Biennale in Venice actually dealt with that same idea as well: All the World’s Futures […].

Final question. You can now travel back home a little lighter. What are your next plans?

I will actually be back in Australia fairly soon. I had already applied for Cottesloe in Perth, the sister event [ed. of Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi].  On top of that I’m currently participating in two huge competitions in China, both south of Shanghai. They will probably be decided within the next 14 days. Of course I’m hoping that at least one of my projects will win, and I can then oversee the production of it in China. After that I will be in Madrid, where I have a visiting professorship. There I’m expecting to hold a workshop in April: elementary forms and abstract composition. Then there will be projects in Germany, competitions that I cannot yet speak about.