A Bright City Patch
How often does it happen that the answer to your question is just there on the street? All you have to do is read it. These men in white suits are doing just that. They’re attempting to read the city and find answers to the larger questions: How does the city work? How do people experience it, and how can you enhance that experience? Experts, including city planners, mayors, city managers, plumbers, policemen and even artists, ask themselves these questions everyday. But does anyone ever turn to the city itself for the answers?
These white suits, huddled underneath a white tent, appear to be deep in concentration. They’re listening to a scene on the Muiderstraat, where stones seem to be bubbling from the surface. The Amsterdam-based artist Erik Sok wanted to create a piece of art that simulates an event that occasionally happens in trains. Something happens, large or small, and those who were staring out into the distance or engrossed in a book or newspaper or their phone, suddenly look up and start up a conversation. Let this happen on the Muiderstraat.
Simple but with a large effect: that’s what A bright city patch was meant to be. A few concrete-poured mannequins are bent over a container, and LED lights embedded in the roads surface allow light to squeeze through the cracks. Stick a piece of transparent plastic on top and it’s done. But the result is fascinating. It’s like we, the inhabitants of earth’s surface, are spoken to from the depths – or from the corridors of Amsterdam’s underground –something is happening here. Large or small, it doesn’t matter. We need to witness it.
This tent and the white sterile suits may refer to a terrifying situation. An accident or murder and the investigation of a forensic team. Misery. But misery deserves a place in the city the same way that joy does, says Erik Sok. And, who says we’re not looking at a group of euphoric investigators who have just discovered an important archaeological artifact?
Sok’s sculpture needs to look as real as possible since the large human-size figures must be deceiving. Is this real? If it is, it’s frightening. If it’s not, it’s even more frightening. Just like Edward Kienholz’s doll café, The Beanery, one of the Stedelijk Museum’s top pieces. Visitors enter the café and get the fright of their lives when they discover that the face of the woman in the striped sweater, just like the faces of the figures around her, is made of analogue clocks.
See, there’s enough to talk about. And in this way, the street does appears to give the answers to the questions asked by the city’s residents. It says: this is what it’s all about. You look, you’re curious, you chat about it with your neighbor or a passerby and spontaneously a conversation arises. Long, short, it doesn’t matter. As long as there’s a conversation. Then the street is satisfied.