For the last eight months I've been photographing people visiting Cloud Gate, the Anish Kapoor sculpture in Chicago’s Millenium Park. In 2011, a Cornell University study of flickr uploads found Cloud Gate to be the sixth most photographed landmark in the world. Resembling a legume made out of mercury, Kapoor’s sculpture is often referred to as "the bean".
In the space underneath the bean, people bump into each other and breathe the same air. They take photos of themselves taking photos in the mirrored surface. The bean's stainless steel surface is covered in smudges. Visitors touch the belly of the bean and leave handprints on top of handprints, evoking the prehensile outlines of the cave drawings at Lascaux, while at the same time merging together into a type of crowd-sourced, endlessly evolving abstract expressionism in grease. About nine feet from the ground the handprints stop, creating a tide-line of human reach.
The ceiling of the bean's underside is blocked from the sun and can be totally disorienting. Your reflection never appears where you first think it will be. I've seen children that had to be comforted by their parents after they couldn’t find their own reflection. "Where am I?" "It’s OK, look, there you are."
Zak Arctander is an artist living and working in Chicago. These photographs are part of a new unreleased series, entitled Flesh Made SteeI. More of his work can be seen here.