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How Anish Kapoor's whirlpool art confronts right-wing populism?

07:13 PM Mar 08, 2023 IST | Ground report
how anish kapoor s whirlpool art confronts right wing populism

Anish Kapoor is one of those plastic artists who work with water. Water allows him to make “a non-sculpture sculpture”, as he himself explained, regarding Descent, his eternal whirlpool: “a negative form of sculpture, like water falling endlessly within itself”.

Descent means many things, but above all, it is a whirlpool of water that seems to attract and swallow everything, and carry it through a black hole into an abyssal space from which it is not possible to emerge. As the vortex of a tornado would, but towards the center of the Earth.


It is the force of nature expressing two contrary currents that collide and engage in a kind of magnetic dance.

The energy can come from rising and falling tides or from the friction of a river flowing in a narrow space, or the water of a fast current against a slower one and the pressure on a still water, or from air escaping through of a drain that makes it spin and absorb like black holes.


Cloud mirror

Playing with the materials that allowed him to shape the duality of the physical object and its non-physical, endless counterpart, as he himself defines his conception of art, in 2006, he designed the Cloud Gate, a large-scale installation format in stainless steel, which reflects and distorts the passers-by, the buildings against the sky and the ground, in Chicago’s Millennium Park. 


Anish Kapoor’s whirlpool art, also known as ‘Descension,’ is an installation artwork that consists of a large, continuously swirling vortex of water. The artwork was first exhibited in 2014 at the Arsenale in Venice, Italy, and has since been shown at various venues around the world.


Anish Kapoor’s whirlpool art confronts right-wing populism

Anish Kapoor’s whirlpool art, also known as ‘Descension,’ is a powerful and thought-provoking installation that confronts right-wing populism in a number of ways. The artwork consists of a large, continuously swirling vortex of water, which creates a mesmerizing and immersive experience for viewers.


One way in which ‘Descension’ confronts right-wing populism is by challenging the idea of fixed, stable, and unchanging identities. Right-wing populists often rely on simplistic and essentialist notions of identity, such as national or ethnic identity, to divide people and promote their agendas.

However, Kapoor’s whirlpool art highlights the fluidity and constant change that characterizes our world, and encourages viewers to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.

Another way in which ‘Descension’ confronts right-wing populism is by reminding us of the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet.

Right-wing populists often deny or downplay the existence of global challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation, and prioritize narrow, short-term interests over the common good.

However, Kapoor’s artwork reminds us that we are all connected and that our actions have consequences that extend far beyond our immediate surroundings.

Finally, ‘Descension’ confronts right-wing populism by fostering a sense of awe, wonder, and empathy among viewers.

Right-wing populists often promote fear, anger, and hatred as a means of mobilizing their supporters and demonizing their opponents.

Anish Kapoor’s whirlpool art is a powerful and timely response to the rise of right-wing populism, and a reminder of the importance of creativity, imagination, and compassion in shaping a better future for all.

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