John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Perfect for people who want to wash off days of grime in 0.1 seconds.
Fans of dreamlike public art—or grimy people who want to experience the most punishing shower ever—should book it to Versailles, where there’s now a huge waterfall seemingly gushing from a rupture in space-time.
The massive, elevated faucet is a centerpiece of a new exhibit in and around the palace by Olafur Eliasson, whose artworks often play with natural elements like water and light. (You might recall similar waterfalls he erected in 2008 around New York, or the blocks of melting Greenland ice displayed at the 2015 Paris climate conference.) The artist writes:
For my exhibition this summer, I am doing a series of subtle spatial interventions inside the palace deploying mirrors and light, and in the gardens, I use fog and water to amplify the feelings of impermanence and transformation. The artworks liquefy the formal design of the gardens while reviving one of landscape architect André Le Nôtre’s original, unrealised visions: the placement of a waterfall along the axis of the Grand Canal. This waterfall reinvigorates the engineering ingenuity of the past. It is as constructed as the court was, and I’ve left the construction open for all to see—a seemingly foreign element that expands the scope of human imagination.
To achieve the floating ‘fall effect, Eliasson used a crane, hose, and a pump system. Here are some more views captured by photographer Anders Sune Berg, including a couple of that aforementioned “fog assembly.”