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.
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.