Monday, May 28, 2012

Winging it

One of the great things an artist can do is to gift us our secret desires. Who hasn’t looked out a aeroplane window and wondered about walking along the wing? (OK, so we’re alone here -  no matter - we’ll push on). 

The Slovakian artist Roman Ondák played an intriguing part in Massey University’s One Day Sculpture programme back in 2009 with his idea of queues waiting patiently for nothing, nowhere in particular. In his solo show at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin Ondák  installed the sawn-off wing of a passenger plane and encouraged people to use it as a bridge to the next part of his exhibition. Ondák was inspired by the words often written on wings: “do not walk outside this area.” Ondák told the curator that when the wing turned up it was smaller than he thought it would be.

That reminded us of something we heard in Los Angeles when we were touring around with Michael Webb an architectural writer. We were visiting a new firm of architects and were very impressed by their huge working tables made from the wings of large aircraft. We were told, rather shamefacedly, that some B52 wings had been ordered up from the famous aircraft graveyard in Arizona but when they arrived they turned out to be 56.4 metres long (just over half the length of a football field). They wouldn’t even fit in the building. So back they went  ‘smaller’ horizontal stabilisers off the tailpiece were sent instead. 

Image: a visitor steps out at Roman Ondák’s exhibition Do not walk outside this area in Berlin