(originally published for touchstone | Architecture in Wales, 2016)
Last summer a cocoon appeared in Bute Park, spun between the trees in the shaded area near the Waterbus stop. TAPE was commissioned from Croatian artists’ collective Numen, through a collaboration between the RSPB and Migrations, who develop innovative arts projects in Wales and elsewhere.
The temporary installation, constructed from sticky tape by a group of volunteers, was a suspended biomorphic form in which visitors could walk and crawl, or just sit. This parasitic process had been enacted previously in Paris, to create an extended mesh of translucent passages around the Palais de Tokyo’s concrete pillars.
In both environments the work explored the intersection between sculpture and architecture, underlining the privilege of art to put aside function and permanence, and consider instead the idea of low-tech collaborative construction, in spaces that are underused, abandoned, or defined by long term plans.
TAPE proposes interventions in varying timescales, within and beyond the built, to embrace the possibilities of constant change and gradual transformation, from the ephemeral, though impermanent and semi-permanent manifestations, to substantial structures and infrastructure. Occupation at startlingly different paces is familiar, but often unacknowledged.
TAPE is as much process and performance as object and, as with performances by National Theatre Wales or other ‘homeless’ organisations, may lead us away from a focus on ownership. Can we draw on history, use and imagination to consider occupation of the city through inventive temporal and spatial mixes? The permissive space of the park was a good place to think of these things, lying in this cocoon.
Bella Kerr, 2016