Public Art Project Looks at Impermanent Life in the City

The Blue Wall Project by Itziar Barrio
The Blue Wall Project by Itziar Barrio

We first introduced you to Itziar Barrio in December 2009 when she placed a billboard atop a building at the corner of Fulton and Nostrand in Bed-Stuy proclaiming it the new paradise.

This Friday September 23 Rescheduled for Friday September 30 due to the rain, Ms. Barrio will take on another public art project called The Blue Wall Project, this time tapping into the impermanence of the city in – where else? – Williamsburg. Here’s the description:

A public video installation that explores the sense of time, history and place by converting an ordinary blue construction fence into a live blue screen.

The project deals with our daily interaction with the urban fixture and generates a new fiction based on the historic memory of the place and the plans for the future of the space.

The Blue Wall Project examines the impermanent and historical notions of the city as well as New York’s constantly shifting landscape as a physical manifestation of impermanence.

The Blue Wall Project is an Open City event hosted by Moviehouse, will begin at 7pm at 105 Metropolitan Avenue, and will be ongoing through the evening, so stop by whenever. We emailed Ms. Barrio to learn more about this interesting public project. What inspired you to create work based on the impermanence of New York City’s landscape?

Itziar Barrio: The Blue Wall Project consists of creating a Chroma-Key or Blue Screen piece in real time using a temporary construction wall. These walls, which normally delimit construction zones are mainly painted blue (in NYC), also the main color used on the Chroma-Key and Blue Screen.

I have worked in the past with blue screen technology, so I was very already familiar with it. You can’t avoid noticing these blue walls when walking everyday on NYC streets. I first had the idea while walking down the sidewalk and it struck me that they were the same color. After this first spark, I created a entire structure for the project , like: relating the project to the location as a site specific project, researching the history of the location and future plans for it and creating a “new mythology” around it through video.

It is a project to be carried out in different locations. In May 2011, I created it for the New Museum’s Festival of ideas for the New City in collaboration with No Longer Empty, in the Lower East Side. In that one, the video that came up from it is a totally different one than the one I will be using in Brooklyn. A site specific video is always being created generating a new fiction based on the historic memory of the place and the plans for the future of the space. The one in the Lower East Side was more of a documentary format with fiction touches. This time, the project is being carried out with the collaboration of Moviehouse and the support from the Brooklyn Arts Council, using renders from a building that never got constructed on the location and some other references to film language and pop culture.

I approach the construction site as the present of the location that is actually or in a standby or on works, becoming something. It is a place without a present or a transitional one (in construction), but with a past and a future. With this project, I am filling that gap for just one night, when the natural light and the city, artificial ones, allows me to do it, in the dark.

BTB: What do you enjoy most about engaging city residents with public art?

IB: By playing with the temporality of the city landscape as well as our daily interaction with the urban fixture, I hope the viewers will question their relation to the everyday urban landscape in general and find a new appreciation for it.

In The Blue Wall Project, the fine limit between the public and the private space is also being alluded to. Questions like the use of the public space as a personal one among others are being explored: like the idea of creating a video installation in the context of a city, in the public space, and not indoors as usual. In this way the line between private and public is been some how erased.

At the end I intend to bring up questions that are not overtly social or political, but that deal with the tendency of the human mind to create iconic and associative characters out of its surroundings and the effects of those associations on society.

BTB: What do you want viewers to take away from seeing The Blue Wall Project?

IB: From the art itself, I as an artist can only hope that the people find a useful interpretation of the work and a lasting meaningful experience. Hopefully give them a new way of approaching our reality. The Blue Wall Project is more an artistic experience and an exploration than an art piece with just one single meaning.

I am very interested in these blank lapses of an experience when you can not put words on it or you can not explain it. With my work, I am always trying to reach those undefined places or ¨spaces without words¨.

I am also very interested on the fact/idea that “language is knowledge,” and in that way I see our constant interaction with everyday life objects as a linguistic construction. In other words, I see the context we are surrounded by as being full of linguistic codes, and with my work I am highlighting this at the same time that I try to understand how it works.

Here are some stills from the piece:

Nicole Brydson Written by:

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