Hungarian artist Hervé Loránth Ervin has created a bizarre sculpture based on Robert Capa’s photograph of the falling soldier. The famous image was taken during the Spanish Civil War and supposedly shows a Loyalist soldier felled by a sniper’s bullet. It was taken in 1936.
Robert Capa was born in Budapest in 1913 and the sculpture is displayed in a park there as part of the Budapest Art Market. Mercifully it will come down later in the year.
Despite its clumsiness as a reproduction of the photograph, it is still an interesting example of what I call Photography by Other Means. This is where photography is engaged through means other than photography itself, in this case through sculpture.
The essence of Capa’s photograph, an instantaneous capture of a fleeting moment in time is usually presented in a two-dimensional sheet of silvered paper, a darkroom print. Here it has morphed into a 7.5 metre tall, four ton, three-dimensional object. Without Capa’s photograph the statue would not exist – it can only be understood in reference to the photograph, so in a sense it is a photograph, but one that was not achieved using photography.
On another level it can be viewed as a Surrealist sculpture, an absurd reversal of the intrinsic qualities of a photograph. Capa’s image was taken in a fraction of a second but the sculpture took much longer to craft. The photograph shows the soldier shot in Spain but the sculpture has him falling in Hungary. The microscopic particles of silver that make up the Spanish soldier weigh almost nothing, but the Hungarian soldiers weighs tons. It is a series of paradoxes that might interest Rene Magritte.
All this ignores the bad taste of exploiting a man’s death in this way, but that’s another matter.
The sculptor Hervé Loránth Ervin