words Justin McGuirk
A torso in a bikini lies near the shore of the Belgian coastal town of Bredene. The giant limbless figure is a bar made by Dutch artist and designer Joep van Lieshout (interviewed in icon 029).
Body Bar is the latest in a series of small buildings that van Lieshout has shaped as body parts, including the Womb House (2004) and the infamous Bar Rectum (2005), installed outside the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. Despite the gory stumps, the building is apparently not meant to be macabre, and is only an amputee because of budgetary restraints. “There was only money for the torso,” says van Lieshout. “I also like the shape of the torso because it’s very classical, but it’s also the most spacious part.”
Made of fibreglass and polyurethane foam, the structure has a door in one of the leg stumps and windows variously placed along the torso. “It’s the only woman’s body you can enter without asking,” says van Lieshout – he points out that it also has disabled access. Asked whether the building was meant to shock, van Lieshout says: “I’d be surprised if people were shocked – it’s Belgium, people are very relaxed there.”
Body Bar was designed for the Beaufort 2006 arts festival but was never granted a license, so only gets used for sponsored parties at the weekend. It will remain onsite until mid-autumn.