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New York, Installation, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ai Weiwei

Hansel & Gretel: Installation by Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron und Ai Weiwei

Architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, in cooperation with their artist friend Ai Weiwei, have created an installation being performed at the Park Avenue cultural centre in New York. The Hansel & Gretel installation is not the Basel architects’ first cooperative effort with trained architect Ai Weiwei. In 2012, the trio worked together to design the Serpentine Pavilion, and in 2008 they created the famous Bird’s Nest sports stadium for the Summer Olympics in China.

Their interactive installation creates a ghostly surveillance landscape. Visitors are put in the position of either the watched or the watchers; every movement is noted and recorded.

First, visitors immerse themselves in the darkness of the space. While they attempt to find their way through the building, their movements are recorded by infrared cameras and can be simultaneously tracked online. White streaks of light follow everyone there, leaving a visible trace for a brief moment. Pictures of the visitors are projected onto the floor and repeatedly covered by shadows formed by surveillance drones that move freely through the space. While the fairy-tale Hansel and Gretel try to leave a trail so they can find their way out of the forest, the opposite is thematized in the installation. With new surveillance methods, no one’s movements can be hidden.

The dystopian project is complemented by a website with a live video stream. It can be viewed until 6 August 2017.

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