The Owl of Minerva, 2018

Basel 2019
Onyx, LED, and transformer, 120 × 106 × 24.6 cm
Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, St. Alban-Graben 5 Laurent Grasso’s films, sculptures, paintings, and photographs immerse the viewer in an uncanny world of uncertainty. He creates mysterious atmospheres in which the boundaries of what we perceive and know are challenged, at the crossroads of heterogeneous temporalities and geographies. Anachronism and hybridity play an active role, diffracting reality in order to recompose it according to his own rules. On several occasions, Grasso has had the opportunity to combine his work with historical artworks, upending the classic codes of museography. At the Antikenmuseum in Basel, he brings a selection of recent artworks into dialogue with the collection of antiques. The Owl of Minerva is a luminous onyx sculpture that evokes the simplified silhouette of Minerva’s owl, a well-known attribute of the deity, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Carved in an orange-red stone, it is part of a series commissioned by the Institut de France in Paris, in which historical symbols are reinvested with new meaning. Like the Colossus of Constantine (312–315 AD), the monumental size of the sculpture creates a shift in scale that heightens the owl’s authority as a strange animist figure.