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[Plastic, foam, masking tape]

In the Engineering Pavilion of Concordia University’s EV (Engineering and Visual Arts) Building are stacked atria connected by spiral staircases. While studying the movement of bodies on the staircase between the 11th and 13th floors, I was drawn to a piece of foam taped along the glass edge, at head-height. It was presumably there as temporary means to protect users against bodily harm. Though striking and imposing in design, the spiral structure’s threat to the body is ultimately made visible by the foam’s aesthetic incongruities. A staircase functions to direct movement, and is a transitional space, but this three-floor section of stair receives little traffic. Oversight examines and challenges functionality in design and architecture as it relates to users’ bodies in stillness and motion.

If utilitarian architecture such as this is meant to protect, facilitate, and direct, what happens when we need to protect our vulnerable bodies from it? What if we get lost because our human understanding of space does not correspond to the architects’ logic? Oversight responds to the EV Building’s clean, corporate design by infiltrating it with a visceral tangle of fleshy materials. The installation emphasizes, with humour, the body's awkwardness in relation to sleek architecture. The space is humanized by employing uncomfortable, decaying materials which allude to bandaging, caging, protecting and softening.

Oversight was on view on the 11th floor of Concordia’s EV Building, Engineering Pavilion, from October 29th to November 3rd, 2015.


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