Location: Different locations in Bruges, Belgium
Team: Jason Slabbynck and the help of Annelien Lycke
Photography: Jason Slabbynck, Lucas Denuwelaere and Leontien Allemeersch
Praktijkboek Publiek Ruimte 2019
The Liquid Wall is a movable pavilion where meeting and co-creation is central. It is also a platform for the exchange of ideas. The pavilion has a cross-shaped plan with an opening in the middle. The walls are made of wooden panels painted with chalkboard paint that challenge you to leave a drawing, a message or an idea.
The pavilion was designed in response to the Triennale Brugge 2018 – Liquid City. It is part of the ‘inspired by Triennale Bruges’ section, projects organized with a link to the platform of ‘de Toekomst van Brugge’(= organization occupied with citizens’ initiatives) and to the theme of the Triennale. The project was supported by ‘de Toekomst van Brugge’ and subsidized by the local youth service.
Modern society has become a fluid society (theory of Zygmunt Bauman), where boundaries are becoming more and more blurred or unclear, especially with regard to public space. The Liquid Wall questions and confronts us with a number of uncertainties about this space: Where does the public space begin and end, can we proclaim our free opinion, can we feel secure (private sphere) in this outdoor space (public sphere), how do we share this space with other people, when is something vandalism or an artistic message? It also confronts us with a fluid society that is fragile and transient.
The pavilion consists of a space divided into four rooms, where the outer wall, the floor and the roof are missing. Only the internal walls with a doorway define the space. An uncertainty arises whether this is an indoor or outdoor space. The inner walls with doorways simultaneously evoke associations of a (private) indoor space or room while it is still in the (public) outdoor space.
Seen from above, the pavilion has the shape of a cross, just like an anchor point when you would designate a location on a map. A niche inside the chalkboard walls offers chalks that challenge you to leave a message/drawing. It forms, as it were, an analogue Facebookwall of the society where messages can be posted. The social media world is a very volatile and fluid given where things come as quickly as they go. Here too, the temporary aspect will be present. Notes that have been made on the wall can just disappear when a rain shower passes through that wipes out the chalk.
The goal is to generate a place of connection and co-creation. The walls do not form a white canvas that can only be covered by an ‘artist,’ but a black chalkboard. This choice lowers the threshold for everyone to let their creativity go free. If you make a ‘mistake’ you can always erase it and start again. The drawings are also temporary. These can be erased by another person or by a rain shower. These can also be modified or even censored when someone else does not agree. The drawings on the wall will lead their own lives. There will be no unique authorship, only a shared one. This creates a fascinating dynamic in which ‘The Liquid Wall’ forms a physical dialogue between people.
The pavilion is constructed in such a way that it can easily be moved to different locations so it can be used several times to create a new dynamic each time. In each new location an activity is linked with the wall e.g. local artist making drawings, sharing recipes for cooking… . In principle, this is a project, once realized, can run over a longer period of several years. In this way it really becomes a ‘liquid wall’ that moves through the city and beyond.
The pavilion forms an obstacle in the public space and brings people to a halt. It questions passers-by, invites them to share something or continue to work on what already exists. This creates a temporary place for meeting, gathering and co-creation without any form of external control or regulation. A place that is becoming increasingly scarce in our public space.