Photo Credit: Jerlyn Heinzen
I am approaching the Rond-Point de Plainpalais. A couple of teenagers are attracting attention with a staged brawl. In a loud and determined voice, an older man sends a yougboy to the waiting people to to take a few coins from them. Sirens wail. A police van is frisking a teenager on a moped at a red light. As I cross the street, I am startled by a high shrill sound announcing the arrival of the tram. Two women are sitting on a wall eating ice cream with a child. Somewhere there is a bag of clothes, on the ground there are cigarettes, receipts and chewing gum. This tram station is integrated into a public space as we know it from many cities. It is created by the people who spend time in it and shape it with their actions. The positions, stories and goals give the space its quality.
The linear metal vaults, each with a small semicircular room attached, run parallel to the tram platform. They are positioned in such a way that we can circulate fluidly around them. The building envelope of sandblasted concrete and curved glass panes separates the public space from the art space. The porosity of the material provides a base for adhesion, and in the glass one recognises its distorted image. The objects exhibited inside become part of the space. The glass panes of the picture frames, which are placed along the walls in the form of a bench, reflect the immediate environment. The concrete slabs, charged with artefacts of public space, blur with the walls. Detached from the context, I see in these found objects mass-produced items that have been casually consumed and later discarded. Things that are hardly missed, that are almost made to be lost. Souvenirs of a controlled consumer behaviour. The bench as a symbol of designed public space seems very fragile, probably not usable as such. This furniture that tells you, here you have to wait, here you have to meet and stay, here you have to enjoy the view.
I am confronted with an inflation of impressions, both inside and outside. I am standing in a space where I am exposed to the scrutinising gaze of everyone around me, the space in which there are actors and spectators, in which we are simultaneously the observer and the observed. A overstimulation that can sometimes become an addiction.
Please do not forget to leave.
- Selina Sigg, 2021