Taking its starting point from a bearded vulture named Pablo, SUPERFLEX' site-specific work The Return of Pablo is treating notions of historicity and identity construction by re-organising and reinterpreting historical facts, rumors and events from the city of Gstaad. The work consists of three elements - a sculpture, a film and a social gathering eating bone marrow soup.
Pablo is a descendant of the same vulture that dropped a turtle on the head of the Greek poet Aeschylus so giving birth to the idea of tragedy. Crafted by local artisans, the resulting sculpture takes the form of a scuplture where history, mythology, ornithology and speculation have been skewered on a timeline of tragedy extending from Greece to Les Diablerets, from Aeschylus to Pablo himself.
The Return of Pablo is a site-specific work made for Elevation 1049 in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The story takes it beginning 458 BC when a bearded vulture drops a tortoise on the head of greek poet Aeschylus. Due to a prophecy proclaiming that he would die from a falling object, Aeschylus has been staying outdoors where he thought he would be safe. Tragically, the prophecy comes true and Aeschylus drops dead from the tortoise - thus becoming the Godfather of the genre ‘tragedy’.
Possibly the most famous of Aeschylus’ tragedies is that of the titan Prometheus who faces a cruel punishment for bringing fire to humans. To pay for his hubris, Prometheus is tied to a stone and his liver eaten by a big bird for all eternity. In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, at the risk of overreaching or facing unintended consequences. In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy.
Situated in a valley amid the Diablerets – the Devil’s mountains - Gstaad has since the Middleages been rumored to be cursed. For centuries, no one dared to settle in a cursed valley, consequently Gstaad became an area of tremendous beauty and nature un-touched by man. This un-spoiled and secluded area in the mountains soon became the preferred holiday resort for celebrities and jetsetters from Elisabeth Taylor to Roman Polanski.
Most likely due to the pristine nature of Gstaad, the bearded vulture has after decades of absence returned to the city. The population now counts three birds, Pablo being the only male among two female birds, to secure the survival of the species. As the bearded vulture is extremely rare, Pablo is quite possibly a descendant from the bird that killed Aeschylus – and gave birth to the idea of the tragedy. Crafted by local artisans, SUPERFLEX' sculpture takes the form of a sculpture where history, mythology, ornithology and speculation have been skewered on a timeline of tragedy extending from Greece to Les Diablerets, from Aeschylus to Pablo himself.
Based in Gstaad, Huck Scarry, illustrator and son of iconic illustrator Richard Scarry who created the illustrations for the famous children's book series Busy Town, followed in his fathers foot steps and has created the illustrations for the culpture.
Placed on top of a transient gletcher overlooking Gstaad, The Return of Pablo is a symbol of resurrection for the cursed city, and an image of the irrevocable relation between human strive and tragedy.