Sunday, September 24, 2006


Georges Rousse is a French artist who installs perspective art in buildings that are in transition. Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus of Durham raised the money to bring him to Durham and install art in some of the unused buildings around town. This blue square is in the Chesterfield building on the corner of Duke Street and Main. The art itself is minimalist, in my view, but the significance is great due to its placement. On the way to the installation, we all discovered a long-abandoned work environment. Linoleum floors, long, narrow hallways, gigantic metal desks, fluorescent lights, and frozen, oversized industrial clocks told us that it used to be a floor of administrative offices. I love that a photocopier was incorporated. (I *think* it is a photocopier...)

The circle one was my favorite. It was as if it appeared overnight, leaving scraps of another era intact:
Click to enlarge

The Chesterfield will be demolished someday soon because it is cheaper to use its foundation than to renovate the existing floor plans, electrical capacity, and plumbing. Durham is growing and its population doesn't desire a building like this. I would prefer that this be preserved in some way and I think it's more than nostalgia. We should remember our old work environments because they tell us where we used to be and where we are going.

The Independent's David Fellerath had an excellent article about it this week. The official site for the project can be found here.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I agree that the Chesterfield building should be preserved. With a little fixing up, it would be fine as a workspace. Something reassuring about those solid floors and walls, and the giant clocks. It reminds me of my 6th grade school--old building but sturdy, and kind of charmingly retro. I could even see them dividing it up into individual offices that can be rented out. Great for: detective agencies, hair salons, design people, artists, switchboard operators, etc. The people who work there could wear retro glasses and clothing (from the 40s and 50s) and it would be totally cool!