Cartoon about Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit as a fairground attraction
The ArcelorMittal Orbit was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond as a legacy sculpture in the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford, London.
This cartoon was drawn in 2012 when the sculpture was first built. An actual ‘fairground’ slide was added in 2016 (by Carsten Höller, previously best known in Britain for installing slides in the Tate Modern turbine hall).
In the cartoon the Olympic stadium is hosting the Final of the 100 metres dodgem race.
The main reason that the Orbit resembles a fairground attraction is the appearance of the mesh that encases the stairs, which spiral round the structure just like the slide on a helter skelter. This mesh is, I think, a compromise in the design, due to the restrictions imposed by health and safety regulations. Early versions of the design lacked this feature.
I’ve often thought that Anish Kapoor’s work had something of the fairground or amusement arcade about it – especially his distorting mirrors which resemble the mirrors found in a hall of mirrors.
Even his subtly curved and pigmented sculptures, which I like very much, seem to be the work of a master illusionist, and often prompts the question “Is this work a tour de force of special effects, or is it art?” followed by “Does it matter?”