With the project Domestic Landscape 2.0 by Didier Fiúza Faustino, KÖR (Public Art Vienna) is once again transforming Vienna’s Graben into an art space and meeting place. The installed urban furniture made of blue-painted steel invites those passing by to see this public space as open for their own personal use. The sprawling intervention develops from a grid based on the form of a chair, which is multiplied as a matrix and then extended throughout the space. By adding a room divider and tables in two different heights, Faustino has generated a set of “furniture” that oscillates between utilitarian object and sculpture, creating an interior space within the outdoor space, a “home” in the city. The serial arrangement translates the domestic interior into a collective apparatus for the use of passers-by. The Franco-Portuguese artist and architect, who lives between Paris and Lisbon, blurs the boundaries between the disciplines in his work. His temporary project reflects as well the increasingly blurred borderline between the public and private spheres by creating an intimate yet accessible space that invites the public to linger and interact with others.
Didier Fiúza Faustino focuses in his work on the relationship between body and space. Since his architecture studies, he has developed an individual practice at the interface of art and architecture. His interdisciplinary approach encompasses installations, multi-sensory spaces, and buildings, featuring projects characterized by a critical perspective and free handling of codes. Faustino offers the individual and collective body new spatial experiences as he reclaims the public space for the people. With his subversive political stance, he encourages us to question our own position as subjects and citizens. Projects such as Stairway to Heaven (Castello Branco, 2001) – likewise a public space for individual use – lead us to reconsider the boundaries between private and public, between the personal and the collective. Faustino has developed numerous, in some cases mobile, architectures for private clients and international events. In 2009, he founded and curated the first Bordeaux Biennale, Evento, which is dedicated to art in the public space. Faustino is currently working on establishing his own art institution in Lisbon, among other projects. He has been teaching at the AA School in London since 2011. In September 2015, he became editor-in-chief of the French architecture and design magazine CREE.
In his project for the downtown Vienna street known as the “Graben,” Faustino has created a “super strong structure for fragile interaction”: “Over the past few months, I have been working on a new ‘chair’ that is a kind of artifact and matrix. In my proposal, this chair is developed as the key element of the Graben art space. The purpose of the chair is to call into question the relationship between the body and the “Other.” Through serial multiplication, the chair for individual use is transformed into a collective apparatus.”
Viewing himself as a citizen of the world, Faustino is interested in modifying and transforming the situation on the ground: proceeding from the classical notion of space with its coordinates height x width x depth, a structure grows that takes the form of a chair with a rounded or square backrest, which is at once a sculpture and a matrix that can be extended through the space. Faustino thus opens up the proverbial spatial box that goes back to René Descartes to draft a contemporary vision of space as a network of relationships. As in Henri Lefèbvre’s “Production of Space,” the imagined and conceived space conjoin here with the built environment to create a space for social use. Faustino creates with this “misfit” an open offering, but also a disruption of familiar ground. The interior brought outdoors initially seems irritating rather than fitting. And the chairs and tables here are not designed to be ergonomic and comfortable. But this state of irritation, the confusion of conventional codes and attributions, is a good way to encourage people to let themselves in for a new experience. Faustino wants to provoke a feeling of genuine connection and physical appropriation – an appropriation and ephemeral taking possession of the Vienna Graben. Who owns public space anyway? Multiple claims and ambitions overlap in the jointly and publicly “possessed” space, which is today no longer accessible to all. Real space is characterized by various ownership structures, commercial use and advertising, but also by a social “habitus” that differs from one context to the next. Today’s ubiquitous digital “second life,” the World Wide Web we carry around with us as we stare into our mobile devices, nearly blocks out the real surrounding space we move through.
Space is always in motion, subject both in theory and reality to constant flux. Based on these considerations, and the desire to shake up the mode of this transit zone while occupying space for individual use, Faustino has created for KÖR Vienna a plaza where people can linger, featuring a massive steel construction that extends across an area of 12 by 8 meters. The artwork consists of nine seating modules, composed from two different kinds of chair and tables in two different heights, as well as room dividers and light fixtures. The blue-painted surfaces contrast with the copper and bronze patinas that form the omnipresent color scheme of the historic Old Town. This bright blue hue also forms a lighthearted counterpoint to the severity of the material of steel. The 45 centimeter height of the seating elements as well as the other proportions are derived from multiplying the 9 centimeter square cross section of the steel tubes. Faustino is picking up here on the dimensions of the grid of stone slabs on the ground and transferring it from two dimensions into three.
Domestic Landscape 2.0 squarely occupies the territory and once again creates with his archipelago (group of islands) a plaza where people will feel compelled to spend some time. The temporary intervention literally puts itself in the way; it interrupts the hustle and bustle on the Graben and lures people to stop for a moment and enjoy an “analogue” experience, involving social interaction with other users as well as a give-and-take with the structure itself. Those who thus find themselves seizing this public realm for themselves again and making themselves at “home” in it are echoing the artist’s own emancipatory aspiration to reclaim the space. This is not a revolution but rather a change in familiar relations and our usual linear habits. Faustino follows here in the footsteps of the architect and artist Gordon Matta Clark, master of the paradigm shift, who began around 1970 to understand buildings as objects and to rework them not only by artistically reconceiving the surfaces of abandoned houses but also by slicing right through them up in his famous “building cuts.” This literal breaching of artistic and architectural norms, along with the great sensitivity Clark displaced for lighting effects and spatial perception and alienation, still fascinate us today and have had an impact on the work of Didier Fiúza Faustino. His principle of displacement relocates structures borrowed from the domestic context into the public space and thus also shifts the complex spatial and social fabric of the specific site.
Text: GENOVEVA RÜCKERT
CURATOR AT OK CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART IM OÖ KULTURQUARTIER
Kunstplatz Graben, in front of Graben 21, 1010 Vienna
Didier Fiúza Faustino
*1968 in Chennevières-sur-Marne (FRA), lives and works in Paris (FRA) and Lisbon (PRT).