28 November 2013 to 18 January 2014
A city’s needs—essentials, requisites, must-haves—are understood as critical infrastructure—roads, water, power, services. These things comprise a system, designed for optimum efficiency. For the most part they are rendered invisible by our habitual reliance on them (and the irony being their presence is only recognized in their absence or failure.) In Didier Courbot’s series of the same name (ongoing since 1999), he attends to second- and third-tier infrastructure—things used to augment or beautify the landscape. In Paris, Courbot nails a wooden bird house to a street lamp at a busy intersection. Elsewhere in that city, he retrofits a broken bench with a L-shaped modification to invite conversation. In Osaka, he polishes the fender on an abandoned bike he has just repaired. The smallness and secret urgency of Courbot’s gestures ultimately revalue what we consider needs, or rather point out that civic responsibility, kindness, or even open displays of poetry are unacknowledged essentials.
At home, we do not hold back on such pleasures. At home we relax, eat our favourite foods, watch hours of gratuitous television, or curl up with a book. Courbot extends the selfless civic duty of his needs works with several new sculptures that act as “helping hands” to assist in such indulgences. A book stand, a fruit bowl, a lamp: these furniture-like objects are the home’s critical infrastructure, extending Courbot’s (part deliberate, part genuine) proposals for urban space.