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My favourite work in 'Facade: Through a Glass Darkly' is The B-Thing by gelitin. Gelitin are a collective of four artists from Austria who create installation and performance art, often with quirky or absurd overtones. (One of their past installations in a Tokyo gallery recreated a Zen rock garden with a twist: standing in for the rocks were the protruding body parts of people who were sitting underneath the raised gallery floor.)
The B-Thing refers to a small balcony which gelitin constructed during a residency in the World Trade Center's North Tower in 2000. There was a catch to making the balcony, however: their plan to remove a glass window pane from the 91st floor and install their balcony in its place violated safety and security restrictions, and so it had to be built in secret. The artists smuggled wood and materials into the building underneath their clothes and took great care to keep their goal under wraps. When the balcony was finally finished, they waited until sunrise one Sunday morning in June 2000 to remove the seal around one of the windows in their studio and quickly put the balcony in place. They then spent ten minutes taking photographs of everything they could see from their lofty perch - while also being photographed from a hired helicopter. As proof of their stunt, they left a piece of chewing gum stuck to the exterior of the building.
Concerned about the consequences of publicising their illicit project, gelitin kept fairly quiet about its success for over a year - The New York Times published its feature article on The B-Thing just a month before the terrorist attacks in September 2001. It is often compared to Philippe Petit's illegal high-wire act spanning the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, which formed the basis of the 2008 documentary Man on Wire.
The B-Thing was a serious undertaking with a playful heart - the artists were interested in the idea of breaking through the rigid and uniform facade of a modern building, to reunite man and nature by removing the glass wall which helped to maintain the building's artificial environment. What they achieved was a small, transient blip in the life of the building, but the photographic record of the event elevates it to an enduring act of defiance which serves as a reminder that behind the abstract, uniform facades of such buildings resides a multitude of individuals with unique personalities and aspirations.
On gelitin's website there are additional photographs as well as articles about The B-Thing, and many other examples of their work.
gelitin website: www.gelitin.net