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The Ostrich Politic by Robin Gaudillat

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The Ostrich Politic is a public artwork by artist Robin Gaudillat (2020, Bordeaux). This shocking sculpture raise awareness of political apathy during Covid-19 pandemic.


The Ostrich Politic, sculpture, Robin Gaudillat, 2021, Bordeaux. Credit: Ferran L’Homond


Throughout art history, public art is an iconic way for activist-artists to attract mass attention and denounce social problems. This art genre is well-known for its capacity of public accessibility, its relationship with the installation environment and its power of questioning society. The Ostrich Politic is a public artwork created in 2021 by a young visual artist based in Bordeaux, Robin Gaudillat. The sculpture, made from collected materials and wire meshes, represents a man in a suit with his head buried in the ground. We can cross it on the streets, in front of restaurants, bars, theaters, etc., which are all closed due to the government policy of facing the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the artist, this sculpture is a metaphor for human conditions in the actual era. I feel very impressed by this marvelous art piece, not only by its meanings and intentions but also by how the artist chooses to embody his concerns through art.

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First of all, it seems to me that it is a wise strategy to employ animal instincts to denounce human problems. There is a myth that ostriches bury their heads in sand when they are scared to avoid seeing and confronting dangers. We can easily find the similarity in behavior between these giant birds and humans, which nowadays tend to head down and show apathy to the ills of society. It is evident that most of our authorities deny dealing with arduous challenges, especially in the recent period of Coronavirus disease. Since the spread of this epidemic, the French government has shown a retardment in processing remedies for this complicated context. As a result, nearly 50,000 French enterprises have failed in 2019 [1], also our nation reaches 4,465,956 cases of Covid-19 with 94,275 deaths on 26 March 2021 [2]. In addition, the comparison of ostrich instinct with human conduct evokes the uncivilization and inhumanity of government actions. If we continue to refuse to see the danger, to counteract the problems, our society might return to the primitive and dehumanized epoch.


Secondly, another thing that catches my interest is the shock effect on audiences. By creating a realistic sculpture on a human scale and putting it in disguise on the street, Robin Gaudillat has succeeded in making pedestrians curious and confused. If you cross it on the sidewalk, you will hardly ever know what it is. Is it a prank of someone or perhaps a crime scene? And at that point, you are obliged to get involved to be capable of finding out the truth, just like you must take initiative, to take action to know what is happening in society. Moreover, the headless male figure conveys the feeling of underlying violence that connects us with barbaric images of victims beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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Finally, I tend towards the opinion that the ephemerality of Gaudillat’s artwork contributes enormously to its efficacy in creating subversive messages. The sculpture stands in varied places. As protesters march through the streets to demonstrate, The Ostrich Politic roams the city spreading messages about the government’s indifference. Besides, this artwork expresses opposition to the statue toppling problems in America. While protestors are tearing down public statues to raise voices, Robin Gaudillat creates a buried-down sculpture to speak out.

In conclusion, “The Ostrich Politic” is one of my favorite public works of art thanks to its diverse meaning and powerful underlying messages. Also, after reading the article What does it mean to demolish a statue? by Jonah Engel Bromwich in 2020, I do not support the idea of toppling down statues or sculptures because it is an offensive act that goes back to our value of art, history, and cultural heritage.

Credits Photos: Ferran L’Homond


[1] Le nombre d’entreprises en faillite en baisse de 42% depuis mars, se réjouit Agnès Pannier-Runacher

[2] Worldometers

France Bleu GirondeL’homme-autruche représente la politique de l’autruche des décideurs face aux secteurs de la culture et de la restauration (fermés à cause de la pandémie)

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