House of Cards
Will it blow away or continue to rise towards the heavens? The fate of the card house wobbles between the two fates. Up or down. According to OGE CreativeGroup, an agency from Israel that specializes in architecture, street art projects and light design in the public space, it’s far from decided. Their design for Amsterdam Light Festival, an almost six-meter-high tower of gigantic playing cards, floats on a large pontoon opposite Central Station, and finds itself in a never-ending limbo.
House of Cards (no, not a reference to the popular Netflix show about corruption and envy in the US Congress) is fragile and secure at the same time. You hold your breath when a storm blows through, but when you’re up close, you can see how sturdy and ingenious the structure actually is. Just like Amsterdam, actually, a large city built on stilts. Although they have never collapsed, it has been quite tense the past couple of years.
House of Cards consists of 125 light boxes in the form of playing cards, which in turn (or all at once) appear in a preconfigured choreography. The ingenious structure has several levels; it looks like a modern church from one side and from the other like large building blocks. The idea stemmed from the discovery that the famous printing house located on Amsterdam’s Prinseneiland, not far from Amsterdam Central Station, was called Speelkaartenfabriek “Nederland” (NSF), or ‘Playing Cards Factory Netherlands’ at the beginning of the 20'th century. As the name suggests, this printing company specialized in playing cards. You’ll find photographs of preserved card games from those time, like Pang, “the cream of the crop” from 1911, or the great Netherlands Football Quartet from 1923, dedicated to the Dutch national team and 11 national football teams.
Every card of House of Cards has a different design. They have been designed especially for this project by international street artists, people who have a special relationship with the city and use its walls and streets as canvases and stages for their art.