The 2018 Melbourne Art Foundation Commission, in partnership with Bendigo Art Gallery and supported by Artwork Transport, was been awarded to prominent, New Zealand born, Melbourne-based artist Ronnie van Hout.
The impressive, large-scale sculpture, Surrender, was unveiled last night at the opening night of the Fair and depicts two larger than life size male soldiers bent over in a gesture of surrender.
Over his expansive career, van Hout has pursued a warped self-portrait project combining the serious and social with absurd comedy. In Surrender van Hout appears as two larger than life toy soldiers surrendering to an unknown conqueror. Surrender is situated in relation to the war memorial, where the language of memory most often belongs to the victor however van Hout monumentalises the capitulator, memorialising the idea of giving up and letting go.
Surrender depicts two larger than life size male soldiers bent over in a gesture of surrender.
‘We live in a culture that values winning above all and we celebrate that, but success is born on the back of failure and a surrendering figure is not a projected ‘other’, but an empty land to dominate. So in this way they cannot be read as aliens, but as the abductees surrendering to the will of the visitors, arms raised in fear and bewilderment.’
Ronnie van Hout