pedro pires’ 14.000 newtons is a large-scale skull sculpture made of 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy found in the greek island of lesvos in 2016. the project derives from the line of work that the angolan/portuguese artist has been developing about migration since two years ago, when he visited lesvos, splitting his time between volunteer work with the NGO ERCI (assisting migrants/refugees that arrived by boat), and documental and graphic recording, as well as physical recollection of items.

pedro pires sculpts large-scale skull using 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy designboom



‘the intention is to create a contrasting dialogue between the elements of the work, the park and the reality found in viseu, allowing for a platform of discussion concerning migration, europe, responsibility, life and death,’ mentions pires. 14.000 newtons is composed of black rubber from a migrant boat found in march 2016, parts of which were cut and transported to the artist’s studio in lisbon, together with 140 orange life jackets, while it aims at creating a contrast with its surroundings as well as with the migration context of the city of viseu. part of the public sculpture festival poldra, the work has been installed in the fontelo park, in the city of viseu, portugal, along with projects by portuguese artist cristina ataíde and canadian architect neeraj bathia. 

pedro pires sculpts large-scale skull using 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy designboom



the sculpture comes two years after ai wei wei’s life jacket installation, for which the chinese artist wrapped six columns of the berlin konzerthaus in refugee life jackets discarded and collected in lesvos. pires utilizes the personal flotation device once more, as a symbol to draw back attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. 

pedro pires sculpts large-scale skull using 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy designboom

pedro pires sculpts large-scale skull using 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy designboom




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: sofia lekka angelopoulou | designboom

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