On May 5th, visitors to Amsterdam’s Dam square witnessed an oversized head take full advantage of the Netherland’s Freedom of Speech laws. A 4m tall sculpture dubbed ‘Het Orakel’, meaning ‘The Oracle’, spewed unfiltered and raw statements to the immediate crowd over the course of one day. Positioned amidst a symbolic backdrop of the Royal Palace and within view of the National Monument, the installation celebrated the freedoms given to Dutch citizens following World War II.

The public could send an anonymous SMS message to the human-like apparatus which would in turn be spoken to the encompassing audience. By giving a sense of privacy through the comfort of a medium, the interactive piece reflected the community’s opinions and thoughts.

Stylized after African tribal art, the wire-framed construct would mechanically turn and move its jaw to relay the poetic, philosophical or politically incorrect snippets. A simple system of electric motors, springs and rods were selected and left exposed as a homage to the past, contrasting the continually advancing computer and robot technologies.

The site-specific art by Rotterdam-based based Atelier Van Lieshout was commissioned specifically for the nation’s Liberation Day by the Amsterdam 4 and 5 May Committee.

Are you interested in seeing more work by Atelier Van Lieshout? Check out our book New Tribal Labyrinth.