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  • Writer's pictureThe Premises Studios

‘Madonna and Child’ at The Premises

UPDATE:  Friday April 8th 2011

The Police* are now investigating the death and arson threats we’ve been receiving in the last few days from so-called MJ fans enraged by the sculpture currently on show at The Premises. (*enraged Sting fans please note, we mean the Met police.)

‘Madonna and Child’ by Los Angeles based artist Maria von Kohler, is displayed in a high window at The Premises.

Michael Jackson fan sites around the world have been orchestrating a campaign against the sculpture. Although the artwork depicts a real event, with no additional comment, they see it as an attack on the late singer.

Viv Broughton, Chief Executive of The Premises, said “So far we haven’t been taking the threats very seriously but a few of them have become quite specific. The level of abuse has been extraordinary so we’re taking a few precautionary measures just to be on the safe side.”

Amongst the blizzard of misinformed blog comments (see below) is the suggestion that big money is somehow behind it. If only. For the record, the artist wasn’t paid and the work is not being offered for sale. It is not a commercial venture. Perhaps we should also say that quite obviously, the comments below are not to be taken as reflecting our own opinions. So try and be nice you lot, or we’ll set Mrs Watkins the studio cat on you.



March 6th 2011

‘Madonna and Child’, the sculpture currently on display at The Premises Studios in east London, has generated a large volume of complaints after it was featured on several Michael Jackson ‘fan-sites’.

Maria von Köhler, the artist who created the work, has issued the following statement in response:

“Personally I am pretty surprised at the overwhelming amount of negative reactions from the Michael Jackson fan base. I am referring specifically to the presumption by many that the piece was created as a negative, judgmental or ‘jokey’ commentary on Michael Jackson and his personal or professional life. This is not the case at all. In fact it is a representation of an actual incident as portrayed by the media, which was inevitably fuelled by a wide public of fans as well as critics of the star. The piece investigates the nature of the relationship between someone of unparalleled iconic status, the media and the public; the frenzy that subsequently ensued.”

Viv Broughton, Premises CEO, has added this statement:

“How can a work of art that is faithful to a real event be construed as an attack on anyone? ‘Madonna and Child’ is as much about extreme fan worship as it is about Michael Jackson. By their fanatical devotion the fans made him into a sort of deity and inevitably he in turn began to behave like one. The sculpture depicts a moment of high drama. It’s certainly not meant to ridicule but neither is it a homage. It works on several levels, like a religious tableaux.”


As regular visitors here may have already noticed, there is a new sculpture suspended twenty feet up on the side of our building. Intriguingly, it’s called Madonna and Child and it’s been installed in our office window. Swedish-born sculptor Maria von Köhler spent six months, first modelling it in clay then, from a plaster mould, it was cast in polyester resin and finished in acrylic and wax.

Various Jackson ‘fan-sites’ are orchestrating a hate campaign against us (see blog comments below) thus illustrating the point that the sculpture is really about fan worship, about treating a singer like a deity.

Maria von Köhler has exhibited widely since she graduated with an MA from the Royal Academy Schools, Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2003. Her work is housed in collections worldwide, including The Zabludowicz Collection and The David Roberts Art Foundation, London. Von Köhler has held solo exhibitions at Seventeen, IMT and The Kiosk Project, London, as well as Seeline Gallery, Los Angeles and Galerie Lieser, Berlin. Other exhibition highlights include: When We Build Let Us Think We Build Forever, BALTIC, Gateshead; Larry’s Cocktails, Gagosian Gallery, London; National Geographic, Faggionato Fine Art, London; RightOn/Write Off, Chapman Fine Arts, London; Fresh, MOCA, Los Angeles; Selected Sculpture, Max Wigram Gallery, London.


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