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George Nuku

George Nuku

Bottled Ocean 2122

George Nuku brings to the Theseus Temple, the latest rendition of his Bottled Ocean concept. As the title suggests, it is an idea set 100 years in the future. A vision of ocean life fully mutated due to the proliferation of plastics affecting the marine world.

The setting inside the Theseus temple, is a submarine sunken temple. The walls lined with carved depictions of divinities representing Water, Air, Earth, Fire, Wind, and Sea interspersed with Ocean guardians. In the underwater temple swim plastic mutated versions of rays, sharks, pelagic fish, and jellyfish among plastic coral reef formations. The empty plastic bottles, transformed into lifeforms of toxic beauty, cause the viewer to be enchanted and disturbed by Nuku’s presentation of pollution as an artistic and cultural treasure. The underlying message conveyed is one of change: changing our relationship with this material we have created that now permeates every part of our world.

Über den Künstler

George Nuku (*1964) ist ein Künstler aus Aotearoa/Neuseeland.  Er ist Māori schottischer und deutscher Abstammung. Seine Werke reichen von filigranen, handgeschnitzten Amuletten aus Perlen, Jade, Knochen und Plastik bis hin zu lebensgroßen Stein- und Plexiglasskulpturen sowie mehrstöckigen Installationen aus Polystyrol von Māori-Halbgöttern und Helden der polynesischen Kultur. Er führt eine 1.000-jährige, von seinen Vorfahren überlieferte Kunsttradition fort, die das Leben zu erweitern und das Überleben zu verbessern verspricht. 

Contemporary Art at the Theseus Temple

Beginning in 2012, the museum began a new series of exhibitions within the Temple, a neo-classical structure built by court architect Peter von Nobile in 1823 to be the home for a single work of then-contemporary art: Antonio Canova's white marble masterpiece Theseus Slaying the Centaur. For almost seventy years, this artwork stood alone inside the building, until in 1891 it was moved to the newly completed Kunsthistorisches Museum where it still stands today. More than a century later, these exhibitions have returned the Temple to its original purpose: to house remarkable artworks by contemporary artists, one at a time.

Artists who have previously exhibited at the Theseus Temple include Ugo Rondinone (2012), Kris Martin (2012), Richard Wright (2013), Edmund de Waal (2014), Susan Philipsz (2015), Ron Mueck (2016), Kathleen Ryan (2017), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (2018), Maurizio Cattelan (2019) and Susanna Fritscher (2021).


23 June 2022
to 9 October 2022

Opening hours
Daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free entry

George Nuku is simultaneously presenting the exhibition Oceans. Collections. Reflections. George Nuku at the Weltmuseum Vienna

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