Artist's Statement: Alex Chinneck on hanging a car upside down outside the Southbank Centre

| 24 February 2015

Alex Chinneck on his four-and-a-half-metre high, 15-foot long "curled-up" parking spot at the Southbank Centre

“I’m interested in art but I’m also interested in architecture and theatre, engineering and construction in industry. This particular project amalgamates those interests.

I see sculpture as the physical reinterpretation of the material world around us and so by introducing fictional narratives into familiar scenarios, I try to make everyday situations as extraordinary as they can be.

I choose to do this through illusions because I think there is something both optimistic and captivating about defying the realms of possibility.

To create this illusion we worked with structural engineers to design a structure that supports the car when it’s inverted and hanging upside down. The key factor was making the car as light as possible.

The internal skeleton of this thing is a hidden steel structural framework and then that’s clad in a treatment that’s made elsewhere. We then had to engineer a system where we could connect the car to it safely and in a way that it could hang upside down and look believable.

Click on the picture to launch a gallery of the work

The materials used are kind of rough and dark and brutal, whereas the car is kind of bright and polished and positive.

It just made sense that we would create this illusory fluidity in a typically inflexible material like tarmac. The great thing about silica is it makes anything possible. The exact mould goes in, so it’s seamless.

I also wanted to design a concept that could be installed overnight, so during the day it just looked like standard practise, like a group of builders were just excavating the road surface, and then at night we turn up and drop this thing in.

It’s nice, I think, that it has this kind of classic backdrop of the London Eye and Big Ben. I like public artwork because it does encourage us to look up and look around.”

  • You can see the sculpture at the Southbank Centre, London until February 25 2015.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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