Eternity, 2014

Parthenon group with Buddha figures, artificial stone casting with steel inner structure on a concrete base; Overall installation 1520 × 93 × 474 cm

In his work “Eternity,” Xu Zhen combines three-dimensional reproductions of Greek statues from the east gable of the Parthenon with Chinese Buddha figures. The Buddha figures are mounted upside down on the base of the necks of the Greek statues. The challenges involved in the project ranged from research to achieve form, material, and patina faithful to the original, to realizing a balanced structure of massive stone sculptures.

The group of figures from the east gable of the Parthenon was brought from the Acropolis to London at the beginning of the nineteenth century and has been on display in the British Museum since then. The Kunstgiesserei, however, scanned the eleven figure elements from replicas found in European plaster collections, the main part at Skulpturhalle Basel. The artist himself modeled the six Buddha figures based on reproductions of various originals and then made the negatives available to the Kunstgiesserei. In the case of the Greek sculptures, the Kunstgiesserei processed the scan data and then milled the positives in PUR rigid foam and reworked them. These positives were then molded: the negatives, made with silicon, served as the molds for the artificial stone castings. When the imitation stone mass was mixed, the color and granularity were already selected to be as close as possible to the original. In addition, after the cast mass had hardened, a patina was applied in order to come even closer to the look of the originals. Preliminary material samples were matched with the original stone sculptures in London.

A complex inner structure was already cast in when the figures were cast and then later further elaborated. A particular challenge was the final mounting of the Buddha figures on the base of the necks. The group of sculptures weighing seven tons consists of seventeen individual elements.