Kaarina Kaikkonen: If I had Wings – Social Elevator

Photograph of the neighbourhood lift in Marolles, covered in streamers made of t-shirts.
© Anna Prusila

Kaarina Kaikkonen is creating a new work called If I had Wings – Social Elevator in the Marolles neighbourhood of Brussels. Faithful to her practice, Kaikkonen is once again constructing the installation using second-hand clothes. Her choice of materials is an environmental choice, which comments on the transience and the instability of a moment. By using second-hand clothes to create the installation, Kaikkonen brings a human dimension to the work as each item of clothing is also a piece of its previous owner’s past. The second-hand clothes suggest a concern with humanity and identity, themes that are often present in Kaikkonen’s works.

The creation of If I had Wings is made possible through a partnership between the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, Ifa Laboratory, Arts Lab Brussels and a working group. The work is one of three art works that are part of Ifa Laboratory’s programme of neighbourhood dialogues. The aim of the programme is to develop a sense of community in the Marolles neighbourhood and to facilitate a forum for discussion among the neighbourhood’s residents. Art offers the perfect tools for this. Kaikkonen’s installation needs over 1000 shirts that are collected by residents and organisations working in the neighbourhood. The work is an ideal discussion opener in this vibrant district, which on one hand is full of galleries and antique shops, yet on the other hand has one of highest unemployment rates in Brussels and is home to a large immigrant community. If I had Wings is being built around an elevator connecting two districts. The elevator has an important symbolic role in the neighbourhood as it takes pedestrians up to Brussels’ stately Palais de Justice, from where the view stretches across the districts and far into the horizon.

Kaikkonen’s installation will be on display for five months: from April until August 2018.