Space Invaders

The seduction of small things made large

“Chewing gum Misericordia” from the series Chewing in Venice / Images courtesy of Erna Hécey

“I make installations that are momentary. I photograph them, but I think of them as sculptural because they deal with space. My photographs show a recomposition of space through a manipulation of point of view.

“The bubble-gum series (which includes shots of wads of gum stretched between buildings, and the giant-looking bubbles) was created for the Venice Biennale in 1999. I had a small budget, but I wanted to do a huge piece in this place where everyone else was showing huge pieces. The chewing gum is real, chewed, chewing gum and, in the pictures, there appears to be a lot, but I only used a few packages for the entire series of thirty installations. I blew the biggest bubbles I could and then put the gum very close to the camera, about thirty centimetres away, to make it appear giant. Gum is such a common material that the contrast between these small wads of it and the big sculptures being shown at the biennale — and just the cultural weight of Venice — was great.

“I did my ice-cube series because I kept thinking that it’s somehow impossible to make a picture in Paris — it would be such a cliché. So I put ice cubes right in the middle of the image. While you might recognize the city, your focus is on the rectangle of ice. The illuminated-house series was for a public installation in a very small town here in Germany called Borken. I brought very strong lights, the kind you use on film sets, and a generator. I pointed these spotlights at several buildings and then photographed them. I used the city itself but tried to shift the reality a little. I print the images very large; some are the size of billboards. I want people to be seduced.

“My curator at the Venice Biennale told me a man came to him during the exhibition. He wanted to know if all the sculptures were installed within the city. He said that he had seen a few of the giant bubble-gum sculptures but wasn’t able to locate the rest.”

“Glaçon 1” from the series Glaçon
“So Weiss, Weisser Geht’s Nicht” [White, You Can’t Get Whiter Than This], an illuminated rampart from a crumbled castle in Borken, Germany
Simone Decker

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Jennifer Hollett I have been devouring The Walrus's Summer Reading issue and remarking on the quality of all of the contributions from our former and current Fellows. It reminds me that every issue of The Walrus is a culmination of the efforts (including lengthy fact-checking) of the editorial team, the emerging journalists they train, and the generous supporters who make all of this happen.

Through The Walrus Editorial Fellowship Program, we have the privilege of training the next generation of professionals who are passionate about the integrity of journalism. In the Summer Reading issue, 2021 Cannonbury Fellow Connor Garel wrote a piece on Frankie Perez and the art of breaking. Tajja Isen contributed an excerpt from her first book, Some of My Best Friends. Isen, who also began her career at The Walrus as a Cannonbury Fellow, is currently Editor-in-Chief at Catapult magazine.

Our 2022 Chawkers Fellow, Mashal Butt, was instrumental in making sure we got the facts straight in our Summer Reading issue, having fact-checked six features, including Sarah Totton’s short story “The Click.” And in our September/October issue, you can read a cover story on housing affordability by our 2022 Justice Fund Writer in Residence, Julia-Simone Rutgers. (Rutgers is now a climate reporter for The Narwhal.)

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Jennifer Hollett
Executive Director, The Walrus