An 11-meter lizard lying horizontally on the plaza in front of the National Government Information Center in the Saitama Shintoshin (new government administration center) was installed in 2000. This outdoor sculpture made of 1-centimeter-thick stainless steel is highly durable and requires no maintenance. It is a symbolic sculpture, placed prominently among a cluster of beautifully designed national government administration buildings. It is very popular with children, who line up to take turns jumping over the head. It has also become a popular background setting for commemorative photographs. In terms of urban planning objectives, it is quite successful, but this is not its most important aspect. This huge, monster-like form has been created to declare that human beings are a part of nature and cannot survive without it. This is an obvious fact, but it may not be easy for people living in the city to be fully aware of it.
Tanabe makes forms of small creatures, blown up to huge size, and fabricates them in physically tough materials. They are given a symbolic quality. The form of the lizard recalls dinosaurs, which had their moment of glory but were destroyed by environmental change, and it leaves a strong impression on the viewer.
The lizard is waking up, moving a leg forward and raising its upper body. Its formal tension suggests the impending crisis of survival facing humankind. We need to take action now.
The Reptiles, 2000, Civic Core, Saitama Shintoshin, Saitama City
Photo: Naoki Takeda
Translated by Stanley N. Anderson