Anish Kapoor's 'ArcelorMittal Orbit' will be quite the display of public art. The 115-meter looping tower will be the tallest sculpture in all of Britain. Somewhat resembling a roller-coaster, the twisting and looping tower will give the public climbing access to see views of London.
The title ArcelorMittal Orbit comes from Lakshmi Mittal who is funding the project. Mittal is a billionaire who made his fortune in steel, and is amongst the richest men in Europe.
Kapoor is collaborating on the project with friend and world leading structural engineer, Cecil Balmond. The structure will use 1,400 tons of steel and is estimated to cost £19.1m, with £16.1m coming from Mittal. The remaining funds are being provided by the London Development Agency.
The famed artist, known for his larger-than-life sculptures, has referenced the Tower of Bable as an inspirational piece, stating: There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it.
When the plans for the tower were revealed in March by London Mayor Boris Johnson, Kapoor stated, I am deeply honored to be invited to undertake this challenging commission.
I am particularly attracted to it because of the opportunity to involve members of the public in a particularly close and personal way. It is the commission of a lifetime.
Kapoor's most recent installation 'Levianthan' went on display in May at the Grand Palais in Paris. The installation was dedicated to Chinese artist and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, Ai Weiwei, who at the time was being held by the Chinese government for unclear reasons. Weiwei has since been released.
Recently, Kapoor cancelled his plans to present his sculptures at the National Museum of China, out of frustration with the Chinese government for detaining Weiwei.
Orbit is scheduled to be completed by December 2011, and will be on view at the 2012 London Olympics. The city hopes it will remain a permanent visitor attraction, as it has been 'hailed as London's answer to the Eiffel tower.'