Since the start of October, London’s historic Covent Garden market appears to be floating in mid-air.
The art installation is the latest work of British artist Alex Chinneck who likes to explode, melt and turn upside down our preconceptions about architecture.
The idea is to blur familiarity with fantasy, transforming a recognisable building into something quite different.
“The work is kind of playful. It incorporates illusion and humour and it’s quite uplifting in that respect and it seems to be having that effect on those who see it,” says the young artist.
Chinneck is known for his humourous, large-scale artworks, such as the upside down house near Blackfriars Bridge and the so-called “sliding house” in Margate.
For this installation, the British artist mobilized a team of 100 people over the course of eight months.
The top of the building is mainly made of polystyrene, with a 12-meter long steel beam connected to a counterweight on the ground, heavy enough to hold up the structure.
“I think in the kind of environment we move in today in terms of media, it’s tough to create an impact, I suppose, but we’ve become used to seeing so many things on screen, on film through CGI (computer generated images) or special effects, so what I do is I create those impacts physically and sculpturally and that makes it a little bit easier, I suppose, to stop people in their tracks,” Chinneck says.
And it seems the hard work has paid off.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing. I just want to know how it’s done,” says one passer-by.
“It’s fascinating, interesting, the breaking up of this architecture,” says another.
‘Take My Lightning But Don’t Steal My Thunder’ by Alex Chinneck is on display at London’s Covent Garden until October 24.
Upcoming projects involve the main outdoor artwork for the European Capital of Culture in Belgium, which will involved fish swimming inside flooded buildings.