“ABSOLUT DAHLSEN” Unveiled at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney 2004

4.2m x 1.5m


John joins such renowned artists as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Francesco Clemente and Damien Hirst, who have been commissioned to create artworks by ABSOLUT of Sweden.
The Absolut Dahlsen Commission

“The Absolut Dahlsen commission was a positive proactive experience, mainly due to the team I was working with throughout the entire project. This included the executives from Absolut who worked with me surprisingly in a lateral manner. This helped maintain an exciting flavor from the beginning through to the projects completion.

The advertising designer team from Whybyn Lawrence TWBA, were all good to work with, which included Stuart Clark and his assistant Lara, who also came to Byron Bay to my studio on a number of occasions to see the development of the work and to give input into the project, which was always welcome.

I had excellent professionals lined up to help with this project. This began initially with my engineer, through to the fabrication companies which helped me put together the core structure of the sculpture upon which I attached the thousands of flip-flops or as we call them here in Australia ‘thongs’.

I made the following statement at the time about the work:

• The following text will be of use to those wanting to make submissions and pitches for large public art projects. Used as an outline, this introduction and methodology format has proven successful for me.

“The real beauty of the found object work that I create, especially when I use thongs, is that most people who view it have owned a pair and will enthusiastically scan this sculpture with the romantic and genuine notion that somewhere is an old pair of their thongs that they lost on the beach! Because of the images thongs conjure up like the great outdoors and beaches, you will most likely find that the public will interact intimately and humorously with this sculpture, experiencing a fond and genuine sense of ownership of the work. I would like to propose that this work, which is expected to reach an approximate height of five meters (not including the plinth base), is to be seen as a permanent piece made with quality materials.
This piece could then be publicly donated to either the Powerhouse museum in Sydney, as a gift from Absolut, or to the Gold Coast City Art gallery, as a gift for their sculpture walk. These are two public institutions whose collections I am a part of and may be interested in accepting such a gift for their collection. However, I must note here, that the work would need to be made from quality materials, which would give the piece an appropriate lifespan and durability and a sense of permanence for it to be accepted by either of these institutions.
This is art sending out an environmental message. In two thousand following my being awarded the Wynne prize at the Art Gallery of NSW with the Thong Totems, I was appointed the official artist of the new millennium for the environmental organizations, Clean up Australia and Clean up the World. I am proud of this association, as well as being proud of my association with the Australian Conservation Foundation through Peter Garrett (Lead singer from the band Midnight Oil, who went on to become an Australian Federal politician), Pete was kind enough to open my ‘Renewed’ Melbourne solo exhibition, a percentage of any opening night sales was offered up to the Australian Conservation Foundation Marine campaign. This project at Bondi with its inherent environmental message, is a continuing example of my support for these two environmental groups.”

Having the complete project filmed and made into a DVD was another bonus, which I instigated because I knew it would be an exciting project worth recording for posterity and for the use of the general public. This filming continued all away through to the launch, which was held at the sculpture by the sea outdoor art exhibition in Sydney.
The launch turned out to become a significant event on the Sydney social scene and was an interesting experience for me as the artist. Another exciting result of this exercise, apart from the enormous amount of media and response that the work garnered, was the fact that I was able to negotiate with the executives at Absolut and the Gold Coast City Art Gallery, to have this work placed on semi-permanent loan outside the front of the gallery in a prominent position. It is there to this day.
The team at Absolut agreed to foot the bill for any further refurbishments that I may need to make to this sculpture as the years go by, and as some of those flip-flops are ceremoniously pulled from the surface via the expected vandals who can’t help themselves, I imagine I will probably do this after a five or ten year period or when necessary.”
Media release: October/November 2004

“It seems award-winning assemblage artist John Dahlsen’s career just
leaps from one high profile and exciting project to another. In his most
recent coup Dahlsen is the first Australian to be chosen to join the
ranks of such renowned international artists as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring,
Francesco Clemente and Damien Hirst whom have all been commissioned to create
artworks by V & S Absolut Spirits, Sweden.

The universal environmental themes presented in John’s work have this year led to critically acclaimed solo shows in New York and Milan and he was selected by an international jury to represent Australia at the Artiade Olympics of the Visual Arts exhibition in Athens.

After returning from the exhilaration of the Athens Olympics with an
invitation to exhibit his work at the next Beijing Olympics, John had to
immediately embark on the challenge to create ABSOLUT DAHLSEN, a
commission for a major sculptural piece by V&S Absolut Spirits which was
unveiled at the 2004 Bondi Sculpture by the Sea.
Standing 4.2 metres high and 1.5 metres at its base, John had the work
engineered locally in his hometown Byron Bay, by Phil Wallace Engineers and partially fabricated
locallythere also by Byron Steel, from a framework of fibreglass and
steel on concrete steel footings and covered it in his trademark rubber
thongs, a reference to his iconic “Thong Totems” which won the Art
Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize in 2000.

John said, ‘as part of the contract for the project I also proposed
that I provide archival footage of the project from start to
installation and so I commissioned a Byron based production company:
for this job, as a result, I have created a DVD of the
fabrication of the work and of myself creating and then installing ABSOLUT DAHLSEN in
Sydney on the Bondi headland.
So now the project has a really great multi media component’ said John, ‘the DVD will be used by Absolut International to promote their future art projects, which will be very
useful in giving my work further international exposure’.
Over 100 sculptures from Australia and around the world annually
transform Sydney’s Bondi to Tamarama Coastal walk, in to a spectacular
outdoor gallery from 28th October to 14th November, last year’s exhibition
attracted some 300,000 visitors.”

Following the Sculpture By the Sea unveiling and launch of this sculpture, “ABSOLUT DAHLSEN” Has since been placed on semi permanent loan to the Gold Coast City Art Gallery in Queensland Australlia.

absolute dahlsen

Pictured above from left to right: Representatives from Sydney advertising agency Whybin TBWA: Greg, Stuart Clark, The Director of Sculpture By The Sea, David Handley, The Artist, John Dahlsen, Representative from Absolut, Peter Wyjk (Global creative director of Absolut ) …