Burn; Immerse; Demolish. Or simply walk away.
30 September 2014
To celebrate the launch of our Kickstarter campaign for new project, 'Temple', our Development Intern Hannah gives us an insight into other ephemeral creations from around the world...
Temporary temples. Transient creations intended to inspire, fascinate and challenge; but not to endure. One of the most intriguing aspects of David Best’s temples is their impermanence. Temple is a project constructed with the community and transformed by the offerings of those who visit. Its final gift is a public spectacle, a shared moment of wonder and reflection as the temple burns to nothing; and this cathartic moment is reflected across the world in the collective creation, and destruction, of places of meaning.
The Hindu festival Durga Puja is an annual celebration of the victory of the goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura as the epitome of Good defeating Evil. The construction of temporary places of worship is a tradition integral to the festival, and in the state of West Bengal everyday life is put on hold while in any available space – playgrounds, parks and street corners – pandals are created; temporary temples made of bamboo and cloth, created to house highly decorated life-sized idols of the goddess. These elaborate makeshift constructions, often created by communities, are free to visitors and attract both the ‘pandal hopping’ young, who gather to talk and eat, and crowds offering morning flower worship. In Kolkata, art and architecture students design themed pujas: immensely popular constructions with themes from Ancient Egypt to Harry Potter that compete to outdo each other in complexity and imagination. After six days of mantras, ritual drumming and dancing the idols are taken in procession to the river and immersed, symbolising the departure of the deity to her home in the Himalayas.
A world away, a wholly different creation: Paris Tour 13:
In a hugely popular public art project in October 2013, one hundred street artists took over a nine-storey social housing tower in Paris - thirty days before its demolition - and transformed it into a temporary temple of urban art. This massive collective exhibition, inspired by gallery director Mehdi Ben Cheikh and supported by the local council, brought 30,000 visitors to a derelict bright-orange residential block containing thirty-six apartments temporarily dedicated to the art of the streets. With aerosol, markers and sculptural elements working with the decay of the building, artists of sixteen nationalities created a non-commercial, one-time-only installation; encouraging a reconsideration of public space and the urban landscape. A month later, the building was reduced to rubble and pictures of the art appeared online for 10 days only: an ephemeral project showcasing a genre transitory by nature:
Even more transitory, perhaps, is the work of bodypainter Trina Merry (pictured above). In April 2014, using nothing but paint and ingenuity, Merry created a living temple from seventeen naked circus performers and dancers in Human Temple, a live installation at WORKS San Jose Gallery. The work’s central golden woman represents ‘the healed and loved women in Nepal’, raising awareness for ‘Beyond the Four Walls’; a social business venture seeking to empower Nepalese women. Merry was inspired by ancient uses of body paint to aid cultural healing and its implications for contemporary art, reveling in the transformative properties of a medium which changes and develops from the moment of application. It is the power of the temporary that informs these temples, their inevitable destruction. In Ireland, Temple will burn; in India, festivities end with symbolic immersion; in Paris, art is demolished by the bulldozer. And the finale of Human Temple? Its participants simply walk away.