John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
“The Passenger” is an installation by Arne Quinze and not, as you might think, a gorgeous tornado disaster.
Walk along the Rue de Nimy in Mons, Belgium, and you might think an EF-5 tornado just ripped through a Home Depot. Looming above the street is an insane structure of wooden boards, whose improbable angles, gaping holes, and kaleidoscopic colors seem to defy both logic and gravity.
The eviscerated shipwreck-looking installation, titled “The Passenger,” is the work of Belgian conceptual artist Arne Quinze, who when not making public space more surreal in Europe dabbles in flammable, monumental Burning Man architecture. About this latest project, which measures 141 feet long and 52 feet high, Quinze writes (forgive the grammar):
“The Passenger” symbolises the flow of people and their cultural evolution occupying the Rue de Nimy’s since its origine in the 13th century. Functioning as the main entrance toward the Grand Place of Mons. One of the most important commercial trading center to the province of Hainaut during Middle Ages. With “The Passenger“ Arne Quinze focuses on the historical importance of Rue de Nimy. A cultural passage who influenced all layers of its society through the years. Boosting historie and memories, assessments and creativity during the next 4 years. “The Passenger” will provoke reaction and intervene in the daily life of passersby. Pushing dialogue and open the debate on contemporary urbanization.
This is actually a rebirth of the impressive installation—he first built “The Passenger” in Mons last winter, when it made unfortunate headlines for partially collapsing. Nobody was injured, and here’s hoping that won’t happen again this year.