A more than two-metre-tall sculpture by the artist Tal R has touched down in front of Skive Gymnasium. It depicts a number of birds that appear to have fused together. The unveiling ceremony took place on 30 March in connection with the completion of the school’s renovation, which has turned the area in front of the main entrance into a more inviting space for students and visitors.

‘You see the bodies of three birds, one standing and the other two beside it. But there are too many legs and tails, it doesn’t add up. Thus, seeing the sculpture also becomes an abstract experience, and for me, the task was to make the viewer accept that premise,’ Tal R explains.

Hand-made monument
He shaped the monumental birds in clay before casting them in bronze.

‘The basic structure is made of iron bars welded together, and then I had tons of clay delivered to my workshop, where I pounded out the birds. I used my entire body, I climbed on top of the clay, pounding on it with my hands, elbows, knees and feet. This wasn’t a process where I made a little model and then had someone else reproduce it on a bigger scale.’

Although Tal R is known mainly for his conceptual approach to painting, where he freely renegotiates the relations between figuration, perspective and representation, he has previously worked with sculpture and installation as well. For this new piece in Skive he translated some of the same artistic issues directly to the medium of sculpture: ‘The overall idea began with a drawing I did, where you see the birds behind one another, and you accept that because you accept the perspective. This led to the idea of constructing the drawing in a sculpture format,’ he says.

Sixty-nine days in upper secondary school
Tal R also talks about the story behind the title, Fugle flyver af og til bort(Sometimes birds fly away), which was inspired by memories from his own days in upper secondary school: ‘I took the words from a song called Duerne flyver (Pigeons flying) with lyrics by Klaus Rifbjerg and music by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre. It’s a beautiful song that I heard while I was in my first year of upper secondary school. I was enrolled for 69 days. I loved it there, but the school didn’t love me back. I soon realized that I was one of the birds that had to fly away early. Some fly away on schedule, others fly away too late. When I was given this assignment, I knew instinctively that the project had to be about that song.’

Stine Høholt, member of the board of the New Carlsberg Foundation, says about the sculpture:

‘On the one hand, Tal R’s sculpture grapples with birds, a powerful symbol of freedom and the call of adventure. On the other hand, the sculpture also shows us that sometimes, a bird is just a bird. It chirps, it has ruffled feathers – unaware of what this symbolizes to a human observer. With this headstrong, hand-held and unconventional sculpture, Tal R once again proves his strength as an artist of international standing, who is able to take on the outside world without drowning in its complexity.’