British artist James Capper will unveil his new large-scale mobile sculpture Mudskipper as this year’s Powerhouse Commission, an annual commission at Battersea Power Station.
Mudskipper is a fully-mobile sculpture (9.2 metres in length and 12 tons in weight) which has the ability to move across water and land on-shore through the use of two step-type propulsion legs. Inspired by vertebrates, and echoing the brave leaps made by those into a new and unknown world, Mudskipper challenges and invigorates the definitions of engineering and art and the interconnections between the two.
Mudskipper’s ability to change its environment, combined with its hydraulic system of land-based locomotion, gives the sculpture a brave and exigent new character on the water. In line with Capper’s practice, the amphibian sculpture explores the dynamic between biological ingenuity, biomechanics and the human. Mudskipper also points to a greater journey or mission, one that recalls the eccentric personas of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo or Wes Anderson’s Steve Zissou, confronting the precarity of human existence and our contemporary technological desires.
Capper’s creation takes up residency at Battersea Power Station, where it will be moored at the Pier directly in front of the iconic riverside building from mid-May 2019, and will make special performances throughout May and June, when it travels down the River Thames and walks out of the water at certain points of low tide.
Mudskipper will be on display to the public at Battersea Power Station and at The Royal Docks. Free demonstrations of the sculpture in action will take place in the near future when final testing is complete.