Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Remembering Rotterdam...

It isn't very often that I'm floored by landscape installations, but West 8's City on Fire/City in Bloom is a sight to be held.

The temporary installation commemorates the 1940 bombing of Rotterdam by the Nazis - a moment the razed an entire city to the ground. The flower sculpture is comprised of 64,000 red and purple flowers meant to illustrate the history of a once-burning city, now in bloom. The display was supposed to run through the end of June, but was extended by popular demand.

Here's an awesome video on the construction and preparation involved. The video begins with a German poem in the first 53 seconds, but moves on after that:

Additionally, West 8 was also chosen to map out and mark the fire limits (Brandgrens) of the city. From the website:

The Rotterdam Brandgrens (the fire limits) marks the areas of the city that were destroyed by the bombing on 14 May 1940 and the ensuing fires that broke out. The bombing only lasted fifteen minutes but managed to destroy practically all of Rotterdam’s city centre. Earlier this year CBK Rotterdam invited designers Wieki Somers, Atelier van Lieshout, Studio Anthon Beeke and West 8 to present their ideas on how to mark the fire limits. A jury was asked to choose one design. On Monday 14 May 2007 the winning design by West 8 was announced by vice mayor of Rotterdam, Lucas Bolsius.

West 8's design uses light objects to mark the fire limits. An iconic image of a flame is incorporated in circular light objects on the ground and in several information stations, that together form the marking. The image of the flame shows a visual connection with Zadkine's statue commemorating the bombing of Rotterdam. The light objects come to life at night when the solar-powered LEDs illuminate the icon. This physical marking of the fire limits is coupled with information about the historic meaning of the bombing, accessible through the information stations and a website.