Stefan Gec: The Elephant’s Foot

18 October - 18 December 2004

Stefan Gec’s work focuses on technology and the ways that machines like submarines, satellites and space stations may reveal and illuminate the social political and cultural contexts that brought them into being. Central to both projects is a work called the “The elephant’s foot”, an abstract form that has been modeled in hot glass. The original of this is in Chernobyl where, shortly after the explosion, scientists found a very large glass and larva like object right at the bottom of reactor number 4, which was the fused and solidified remains of the reactor core and the fuel-rods hot and extremely radioactive, it is made of uranium isotopes, plutonium, cesium and other deadly debris. This was christened “The elephant's foot' and in order to get a piece for research the scientists went hunting and shot at it with a Kalashnikov rifle till a chunk came away. Now, like the rest of the facility, the elephant’s foot is under the thick concrete sarcophagus. Gec has modeled this form and it is both abstract and loaded. It becomes a trace not only of the disaster and those involved - an earlier Gec project has celebrated the firemen who lost their lives fighting the reactor blaze - but of the desires and intentions that led to the formation of this object. Complex constructions and models of how the present and the future might work.


Other works use beautiful models like the Trident Submarine, or photographs like the Star City Space facility just outside Moscow, to reveal other narratives, dreams and losses of our contemporary world and its changing visions of the future.


Stefan Gec has exhibited widely in Europe and the UK and in 2004, was one of the shortlisted artists asked to present a proposal for the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square by the National Gallery.