Blogging Blaffer

A Solution for “Speed-Paralyzed Passive Passengers”

Antal Lakner, Elevator Stretching. 2006. Installation and poster. Courtesy of the artist
Antal Lakner, Elevator Stretching. 2006. Installation and poster. Courtesy of the artist

At our opening reception for Buildering: Misbehaving the City, a number of visitors were asking where the newly installed elevator in the Joanne Guest Wilson Gallery goes.

The answer is nowhere, but you’re still encouraged to step inside and get moving.

That’s because the installation, Elevator Stretching (2006) by Budapest artist Antal Lakner, functions not as mode of transit, but as an exercise machine for what he dubs “speed-paralyzed passive passengers.”

Elevator Stretching was realized during a 2006 residency in New York City, where the artist was surrounded by a dense concentration of high-rise buildings, an expansive transportation network, and a conspicuous absence of manual labor,” writes exhibition curator Steven Matijcio. “Growing fearful of a present (and future) where machines move us from place to place, he seeks to reawaken the dormant physicality possible when we travel upon the now ubiquitous elevator.”

The piece includes an instruction poster illustrating the various stretches, and visitors are invited to try them out in our non-moving elevator before deciding whether to make a habit of performing them on elevators that actually take you places. Be sure to take photos–of your elevator workouts, or any Buildering artworks that interest you–and share them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Buildering also includes a poster illustrating Lakner’s INERS line of “Passive Working Devices” that mimic what would normally be productive movements–such as sawing wood, painting walls or hauling objects in a wheelbarrow–through “product-less” exercise machines.

“Lakner’s spectrum of INERS devices resurrects postures and actions that technological advance has rendered obsolete, while returning physical activity to the places that progress has turned passive (i.e. moving walkways, elevators, escalators, subway cars, etc.),” Matijcio writes. “Taken as a whole, his devices insert an active, working body into the public sphere where process can be celebrated without being tied to a product.”

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