Dallas Snake


Mark Handforth ( British, 1969 )

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General Description

A site-specific work for the Dallas Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden, Dallas Snake is an enormous, lively, and surreal sculpture standing over fifteen feet tall. Made by "braiding" or "interlocking" three found objects—an I-beam found at a demolition site, a working red-lighted lamppost, and huge anchor chains (each link a foot long)—the work is a giant cobra, uncoiling and dancing, its red head reaching above the garden walls. Mark Handforth has stated, "The chain snake is an oversized readymade, an aggrandized piece of folk art—the kind of thing you might put your mailbox on, but of catastrophic proportion."

Absurd and elegant, figurative and abstract, Handforth's Dallas Snake animates the space, conversing with the sculptures nearby. Barely containing a pulsating energy, the snake seems to pull itself together, building up the necessary momentum to climb over the walls and escape the "prison yard." Rising above the walls and peeking through the trees, its red-lighted head watches life on the other side of the walls, both night and day—passersby, high-rise buildings, and even its boring cousins, the everyday street lamps along the sidewalk. The snake is both a voyeur and an assertive playmate, watching and wanting to take on the Museum's Mark di Suvero [1976.10], made from I-beams, and the masterpieces of modern sculpture in the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center.

Adapted from

Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2018), 100.

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