Melbourne | Literature versus traffic

Place: Melbourne, Country: Australia
Year: 2012
Time of installation: 30 days.

Text and images courtesy of Luzinterruptus
Photos by Gustavo Sanabria
Italian translation by Inexhibit.

Public art Melbourne

by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit

Literature versus Traffic in Melbourne is a truly mind-opening public art installation by Luzinterruptus: a flow of books, disused because considered obsolete by libraries, takes the place usually occupied by the urban traffic and foster new behaviours. The works has the ability to be both of a great visual impact and to convey a profound and future-oriented message.

Literature versus traffic in Melbourne
Project-report, Text by Luzinterruptus.

In June, we went to Melbourne to carry out a large-scale installation, our largest so far, at the Light in Winter festival.
This year’s theme was “reading”; for this reason they asked us to recreate Literature vs Traffic, a piece that we had previously installed in New York in a subversive manner and which they now offered us the opportunity to expand it and make it grow for a month.


To the other side of the world we went, going from the sunny summer in Madrid to a mild and rainy winter, with the romantic intention of converting the modern and somewhat cold architecture of Federation Square, into a cozy, human and intimate space, which encouraged reading and tranquillity.
We had 10,000 books discarded by public libraries because they considered them to be obsolete, that the Salvation Army was responsible for collecting and donating them to us, altruistically of course, we also had our lights and the help of a lot of friends with whom we lived for a month doing the work of assembly and installation.
The objective of this piece? The same as the first time that we carried it out, that a river of books overflowing into the physical pedestrian spaces and installed itself in the space allocated to cars, stealing precious space to the dense traffic in the area, in a symbolic gesture in which literature took control of the streets and became the conqueror of the public space, offering the citizens, a space (not as big as we would have liked) in which the traffic withdrew yielding ground to the modest power of the written word.We managed, after a tough battle against the weather, to change the appearance of the plaza progressively for a month, and that on the night of June 30, a lane of the busy Flinders Street became a space for reading and coexistence, lit by a dim light that paled under the powerful LED displays installed in the plaza.
Our piece served as a backdrop for many things that happened there during these days. Of course, it was the scene for a multitude of photos taken by the curious and visitors, in addition it was accompanied by  many other pieces installed during the festival of light, and to commemorate the summer solstice it was used as the stage for the dance and performance piece Walking Through Words, directed byTony Yap and Yumi Umiumare in collaboration with various communities from the city.
On the final night  the overflowing river of books was offered to the visitors who took their time choosing the most interesting to take home from the thousands installed there. In addition 9 artists from the company Yumi  conducted an impromptu and magical performance that ended in a donation of books to the occupants of the cars that were circulating in the vicinity, who, stupefied opened their windows to receive these mysterious presents.



Although it was a complicated installation, with a quite different approach to the modest and ephemeral ones that we usually carry out, the final balance was very positive, above all because of the people we met and that helped us to pull it off.
We want to give thanks for all their help, to all the volunteers that generously donated their time to us, to the people from Fedsquare that smoothed out all the obstacles for us and that participated actively in the construction of the piece, to our colleagues from Guerrilla Lighting that accompanied us with their flashlights, to Fred Kroh who gave us a large amount of photographic material, to the artists who embellished the installation with their performances… And special thanks to Alfonso Ruano who went with us from Spain and definitely without whom none of this would have been possible, thanks friend and of course, to our dear Cristina Curiel.
Neither are we going to forget the time that we spent looking at books, flipping through their pages to discover the forgotten secrets of people who do not know, and wondering what the criterion was that the libraries followed to remove them from their shelves, some were truly impressive.
A fantastic experience this grand installation, we learned many interesting things, we hope that we will not forget them…


Copyright Luzinterruptus – Photo Gustavo Sanabria

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