Walking down the steps past a metal door with a padlock to view Phillips partner Dupont Underground‘s first art installation, Raise/Raze, feels a bit delinquent. It was hard to temper my excitement at being in a space which at first glance, appears be forbidden. The tunnels still hold trolley tracks and street signs. There are artifacts of the years the space sat abandoned, including graffiti and dripping water. The original designs for the installation included covering the walls completely in a uniform white, but I appreciate seeing these reminders of the tunnel’s past. They underscore the perfect, manufactured luminescence of the re-purposed balls. The effect is the appearance of a pixelated, digital growth in an organic space. I overheard more than one comparison to Minecraft.
More so than other submitted designs, Hou de Sousa‘s proposal truly transforms the material. In their original installation in The Beach, the balls were a mass that one could sink into and be surrounded by. They moved as a liquid, moving force. Here, in Raise/Raze, the balls function as a solid mass, capable of sustaining form and inspiring manipulation. Hou de Sousa takes the balls from a material that must be swum through and struggled against into a material to work with constructively.
I also appreciate how there are pre-constructed areas to explore and create additions to. It can be difficult to be presented with a blank slate, and by providing three pre-made areas that include a maze, open space with constructed boulders, and stalactite towers, the space gives just enough structure for creative exploration. I look forward to seeing what each wave of visitors comes up with each day, and to see them documented on social media.
Lauren Griffin, Contemporary Curatorial Intern