Artwork worth $150,000 made by Expo 2020 Dubai visitors goes on display

The installation was created using 7,500 people and is inspired by Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi's sculptural series 'Sleeping Muse'

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A collaborative artwork created by visitors to the Romanian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is being exhibited at the One Wall Gallery in Index Mall, Dubai.

The artwork is inspired and titled after Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi's 1910 sculpture Sleeping Muse. It is the brainchild of designer Florin Cobuz and his Nod Design Lab team, who hosted a one-month interactive workshop at the Romanian Pavilion to create the artwork.

The installation is on display at Index Mall in Dubai International Financial Centre until July 14 and is currently up for sale with a price tag starting at $150,000.

“Brancusi made almost 12 versions of Sleeping Muse in 10 years,” Cobuz says. “He made it using different materials, like wood, stone and bronze. He was looking for perfection. We reinterpreted his artwork but with the people. So it isn’t perfect. The muse, the inspiration, is not perfect. And I wanted to show that.”

More than 7,500 people were involved in the making of this artwork. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Sleeping Muse, the 2022 version, was created through a unique experiment combining a variety of design and crafting techniques, including 3D modelling, working with modern tools, traditional manufacturing and programming using a custom software.

Each participant was asked to create a code indicating the dimension and position of each piece. This was followed by manually or electrically cutting one or more wooden sticks and then attaching them to the 2.5-metre-high honeycomb structure.

“We had to design special software and an app for the project,” Cobuz says. “There were more than 7,500 people that took part in the construction.

"For each one, we had to register them on the app so that they can get information on the size and position of their stick. We then had to teach everybody how to cut the sticks using either electric or manual saws, then hammer each stick in the right position.

"It was hard work. More demanding than what we expected when we started.”

'Sleeping Muse' was unveiled event at The One Wall Gallery, Index Mall, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

As such, each of the 27,000 wooden pieces making up Cobuz’s Sleeping Muse has unique imperfections, from chips and splinters to being banded by tape. “It also has this natural look,” Cobuz says. “It is perfect imperfection.”

People from 118 countries took part in the project, Cobuz said, including a number of prominent UAE figures such as Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Dr. Saeed Mubarak Kharbash Al Marri, chief executive of arts and literature at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; and Reem Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and managing director of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Sleeping Muse is the first artwork to be exhibited at the One Wall Gallery, the latest art-based initiative launched by Index Mall, which in March 2022 hosted an event titled Art in the Park.

The gallery aims to shine light on remarkable artworks and artists from across the globe and will serve as a platform to connect up-and-coming artists and the community.

“We are excited to exhibit the beautiful Sleeping Muse collaborative artwork at Index Mall,” says Magali Mouquet, executive director of Equitativa, the managing company behind Index Mall.

“It speaks to our values of bringing people together to achieve something greater than themselves. Every stick is someone's story, their contribution forever framed in a moment."

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Updated: June 15, 2022, 2:39 PM