Client: School of Slavonic and East European Studies
Location: LONDON, United Kingdom
Completion date: 2010
Artwork budget: $6,000
School of Slavonic and East European Studies
Colouring the Invisible was a self initiated project in partnership with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Between October 18th- December 17th ( extended by popular demand) A 5 storey installation including 150 windows coated in 17 different coloured vinyl. The colours were associated with languages- collected from surveying over 400 individuals on what they were fluent in. The work surveyed and reflected the community that use the space- at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London.
I was drawn to the school for the architecture. The building was renovated in 1990, by architects who were influenced by Vladimir Tatlin's Monument to the 3rd International in russia in 1919. He of course was inspired by the Tower Babel. The narrative being focused on language. While the school has many focuses, based on the story of the structure and being in London to focus on language. I wanted to make a work that would reflect the community, the schools past and be seemless with the architecture. I convinced the school to support the project- in an effort of getting to re-imagine their space and re-engage their communities. Intergration of community and architecture was core to my mission. As one of my early large scale works in London, this set a precedent for me and helped form my manifesto.
While I approached the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, they helped in getting over 400 people in the school to engage with me and share what languages they were fluent in. The collection was done in person, face to face and resulted in many fascinating conversations. I collected over 53 different languages including Nivk which is only spoken by 8 people in outer mongolia and one professor in London. I matched each language with a colour of vinyl and coated the windows of their atrium by % of most spoken. So English was most popular, and then Russian, then French, etc...The community was invited to not only see the space transformed but also see all the diversity of language that was prevalent in their community- something that was previously invisible. It was a great collaboration with the community- and although temporary, they never saw the space the same way.
Colouring the Invisible won the Aesthetica Art prize in 2011, by Aesthetica Magazine. The video of the process of making was made by University College London and the photographs were taken by Kyungsoo Byun. This project was completed October 2010.