Nylon Chrysalis    (2009 - 2013)

 

Scaffold structures and building coverings can be found in many cities across Europe. Their presence, a clambering of tubes and drapery, are a universal symbol of the city in transformation; cities that are never complete, always in a state of flux. 

Within shadows of the nighttime streetscape after construction crews have left for the day, scaffold transforms. Bathed in a glow of the surrounding city, these quiet and still structures take on new form. Glaring sodium and florescent illumination along with the deepened shadows of night, form an increased dichotomy between the 'historic permanent' buildings and the 'synthetic temporary' tube and cloth assemblage. Shifting away from the utilitarian, these fabrications suggest a demiurgic intervention; perhaps a mad Christo has been at work. Affixed to and enveloping host buildings like an insect’s woven chrysalis, these quiet veiled sentinels pierce the aura of the building, and hold a secret within. Is the building behind being gutted? Is it being added to? Is it being demolished? Is the scaffold temporary? What is certain, is change; a metamorphosis.

Encountered within historic city centres or 'old towns', these structures are largely a by-product of a globalized ease of travel; an increased desire to see and experience the exotic other. Driven by the economics of  tourism, cities cleanse and rejuvenate aged buildings, transforming districts into enticing enclaves of the authentic for the tourist's gaze. Scaffold and coverings exist within this landscape, yet are invisible to the tourist who experiences their travel through the lens of a camera (or smartphone). Every scenic moment is captured through a shutter. The tourist consciously unsees the unsightly scaffold amongst the view, averting his or her camera. It is not part of the 'authentic' picturesque, therefore does not belong in the photo album memoryscape.  

Photography in Nylon Chrysalis is used to freeze the temporal existence of these architectural installations as they are found on travels around Europe. The photographs make visible an unseen and overlooked, that would otherwise be lost and forgotten. Artificial illumination of the nighttime European city unifies and collapses geographic proximity. The locations become a mise-en-scène of the theatre of the nighttime city. Like Italo Calvino’s imaginary city of Thekla (from his novel Invisible Cities), composed entirely of cranes and scaffold, the project together forms a new, possible metropolis; a topography blending brick and stonework with modular skeletons adorned with synthetic drapery. This new city of Europe is a city paralyzed in a perpetual in-betweeness, waiting for an emergence from the Nylon Chrysalis.