Freedom of speech (2006) Chris Ripken

photo Otto Snoek
About the artwork

This group of statues originated as satisfaction: after the murder of Theo van Gogh, artist Chris Ripken had written the text 'Thou shalt not kill' on his facade. The text was immediately deleted by the municipality. Ripken protested. He received apologies from Mayor Opstelten and an amount of 15.000 euros to make a new work of art. That became this sculpture group Freedom of speech. In the center of the group is a female figure made of blue ceramic. Around her are five heads in the skin color of five ethnicities. She doesn't have a head herself, but one is already starting to grow up from her torso. She is a primeval mother and with this 'beheading' Ripken expresses freedom of speech: it makes no sense to try to curtail it, she still exists and new heads emerge.

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About the artist

Sculptor and ceramist Chris Ripken (Rotterdam, 1956), who grew up in Ethiopia, is very active in Rotterdam Noord. He has made various colorful sculptures of small ceramic tiles, in which he prefers human figures. Ripken is very involved with society and society. He regularly involves local residents in making his sculptures. Freedom of speech is his most famous work. He mainly uses colorful ceramics to give color and cheer to the gray city. Ripken has been based in Belgium since 2019.

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