Last week the Irish photographer Richard Mosse won the Deutsche Börse Prize for his amazing pink pictures of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Created with special heat-sensitive film, Richard used the shock of the unexpected palette to engage us with a conflict that can feel very far-removed.
The latest project from German artist Katharina Grosse uses colour to jolt us out of ourselves in a similar way, but her context couldn’t be more different. She has created seven super-colourful installations alongside the train tracks in Philadelphia as part of the city’s Mural Arts Program.
With 34,000 people using this line to and from New York every day, the piece confronts these commuters with art in a very public way. Katharina has long explored shifting scale in her work – dangling off a crane to create her huge gallery installations – but pyscholustro ramps this up another level (a natural step she told us when we interviewed her in the Autumn 2013 issue of Printed Pages magazine).
Of her new work Katharina says: “The work shifts your notion of size through movement, so when you stand in front of it, it’s huge, but when you pass it by on the train it becomes small. This kind of experience — that your life is constantly in that kind of changing mode — is something I’ve always been fascinated by. And this time we have an extra tool, which is the train. In a museum you walk, and that’s the way you move. Here, you can fly.”
Interestingly the city authorities will protect it for a couple of months, but after that graffiti artists and the like will be free to modify and/or destroy it, something the artist is pretty phlegmatic about. Still if you’re in the area, maybe best to make a date on this train sooner rather than later.