Monthly Archives: March 2011

Double happiness.

[Didier Faustino’s Double Happiness in Shenzhen-Hong Kong]


I wanted to point out this “urban reanimation device” produced by artist Didier Faustino in 2009 for the Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture in Hong Kong. In some of the same ways that Carsten Holler’s slides are exciting, Double Happiness utilizes the idea of creating a work that is necessarily experiential,  a piece which presents an eminent physicality that demands participation in order to be actuated.

Upon first seeing the above image, I initially had romantic notions of a renegade artist stoically welding the hardware of the swings in the earliest hours of the morning, overlooking from on top of the former advertising platform   a plethora of other abandoned structures littering the skyline, monuments and tombs to a collapsed version of capitalism. I must admit that I was a little disappointed when I figured out that this “billboard” was actually created for the specific purpose of being an art object and actually not really a billboard at all.

[Philippe Petit tight-roping across the Twin Towers in 1974]


I still think that the most exciting aspect of this work is the ideas it brings forth of re-purposing urban space, transforming the post-industrial landscape into a playground. I’ve been trying to find online evidence of an old factory converted into a nightclub/recreational facility that had scuba-divers in the silos…I thought it was somewhere in Germany. Am I just making this up? Regardless, there is a lot of solid conceptual terrain to reimagine derelict architecture, to transform the  abandoned into a new archetype of activity based around the exploration of transcendent possibilities. Ziplines and high-wires traversed by Philippe Petit proteges across an ever-changing network of rooftops; endurance parades with ever-growing floats that march through vacant shopping malls collecting costumes, instruments, and members as they travel; highways and overpasses dominated by Mad Max flower children on tandem bikes responsible for circulating the mobile lending library and seed bombing the remains of the city…

I found the image of Double Happiness via Elodie Friedmans blog, a recommended place of perusal for your fill of visual stimuli.

Big Freedia is large.

Remember that movie where Rick Moranis played a feckless scientist who accidentally radiated his son and turned him into a gigantic, pants shitting crybaby terrorizing Las Vegas? This Big Freedia video is a little bit like that but way better–all the pros of overgrown people (which primarily involve them doing headstands and letting cars pass between their legs) without any of the cons.

Representing New Orleans and Bounce music proper, the self-proclaimed “queen diva” is depicted larger than life in this new video for her single “Ya’ll Get Back Now”. Dancers on top of buildings! on bridges! floating through space! So, so good.

Further evidence of police misconduct during Eris Parade in New Orleans.

The above video clearly illustrates misconduct by the NOPD during the Eris Parade this past Sunday.

A cameraman is pepper-sprayed directly in the face, as is a young man who is communicating to an officer, “I’m trying to make sure my friend is ok.”

A police officer sprays liberally into a crowd of costumed paraders. Again, paraders. Not protesters.

Additionally, bad has been turning into worse in the DIY community with the forced closure of The Iron Rail and Plan B, two established non-profits sharing a building in the Marigny. The Iron Rail, a resource center focused on printed media, and Plan B, a bicycle co-operative, are both important assets to  the city and contribute significantly to the vibrancy as well as to the vitality of New Orleans. More than just mere coincidence, the closing of these cultural establishments appears to be a direct attack on the community organizations and it’s members believed to be affiliated with the events at the Eris Parade.

Krewe of Eris met with police aggression, arrests during parade in New Orleans.


For those unfamiliar with  Krewe of Eris, it’s one of several unofficial, unsanctioned parades occurring during Carnival season in New Orleans. While typically many things to many different people, the Eris parade is undoubtedly an exuberant, unrestrained exhibition and celebration of creativity and individual expression.

Open to all, the Krewe of Eris has no membership requirements, no dues to be paid. Rolling for it’s seventh year this past Sunday, the parade traveled through areas of the Bywater, Marigny, and French Quarter in the city of New Orleans. As the procession of costumed paraders entered the French Quarter,  the crowd was met with increased police hostility. The situation escalated as Eris continued on its march, resulting in members of the New Orleans Police Department brandishing batons, pepper-spraying large groups of people, and arresting at least a dozen individuals believed to be affiliated with the parade.

For a city that prides itself on its proficiency at controlling crowds, the New Orleans Police Department publicly failed at handling this event in a professional manner, utilizing violence and random arrests in lieu of the “crowd control strategies and techniques” they are supposedly equipped with.

The front page story on this incident from The Times Picayune can be read here. The excerpts below are from the New Orleans Independent Media website:

Sunday, March 6, 2011: Krewe of Eris parade attacked by NOPD

“The parade then moved forward, finally, following a course that took it into the French Quarter. We didn’t get far; it was clear the Eighth District didn’t want us there. Some neighborhoods are okay to parade in, and some, apparently, are not. The response to Eris entering the Quarter was swift and markedly more aggressive. A helicopter swept us with its spotlight– wait, does NOPD have a helicopter now? There was definitely one present. Police cars blocked off two sides of every intersection, directing the parade into two right turns: up one block and then directly back out towards Esplanade. All the cars at the intersections had their sirens going at ear-splitting volumes, as did the now-multiple cars behind us, which accelerated and roared their engines. Many paraders broke into a trot and then an unnerved run. Some crowded onto the sidewalks.”  Read more: Arrested at the Eris Parade

Also, a repost from nolaslate: “I ran back out the door and ran into a man who had been with Eris who told me that the cops had tried to blockade them at Esplanade, then Franklin, now here at Port. When I walked the half block to the intersection I saw cop cars everywhere, cops with a kid face down on the ground and all had their batons out and their attitudes in evidence. The police were very clearly spoiling for a fight.” Read More: Permitting Culture Crimes