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British artist James Capper is unveiling his new large-scale mobile sculpture MUDSKIPPER on the River Thames.
A former Thames workboat, MUDSKIPPER is a fully-mobile sculpture (9.2 metres in length and 14 tons in weight) which has the ability to move across water and land on-shore through the use of two step-type propulsion legs. Inspired by vertebrates, and echoing the brave leaps made by those into a new and unknown world, MUDSKIPPER challenges and invigorates the definitions of engineering and art and the interconnections between the two.
MUDSKIPPER will be in residency at Battersea Power Station as this year’s Powerhouse Commission. During September the sculpture will travel down the River Thames and walk out of the water at certain points of low tide at Nine Elms and the Royal Docks.
MUDSKIPPER’s ability to change its environment, combined with its hydraulic system of land-based locomotion, gives the sculpture a brave and exigent new character on the water. In line with Capper’s practice, the amphibian sculpture explores the dynamic between biological ingenuity, biomechanics and the human. MUDSKIPPER also points to a greater journey or mission, one that recalls the eccentric personas of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo or Wes Anderson’s Steve Zissou, confronting the precarity of human existence and our contemporary technological desires.
James Capper's mobile public sculpture MUDSKIPPER is the Battersea Power Station Powerhouse Commission for 2019. MUDSKIPPER is co-commissioned in 2019 in partnership with Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms on the South Bank and the Royal Docks; it is produced by Illuminate Productions. Albion Barn acquired the original workboat with James Capper and published the MUDSKIPPER maquette. The project is also supported by Arts Council England, Hannah Barry Gallery, Perkins Engines and Thames Clippers, with additional support from the Science Museum Group. The mobile public sculpture will engage and integrate with the life of the River Thames, undertaking a series of tests and demonstrations on the River and its foreshores in September 2019.