Our good friend Alexandre Pachiaudi is currently releasing on his blog Archiact, an excellent series of post about French artist Etienne Boulanger‘s work. Several of his projects could be appropriate for this (UN)WALL theme but the “performance” Plug-in Berlin drew my attention even more than the others. Between 2001 and 2003, he reproduced what Georges Orwell did in 1929 and described in his Down and Out in Paris and London, which is a voluntary choice for a temporary precarious life. During those two years, Etienne Boulanger built several shelters “into” walls providing thus a perfect camouflage of his presence:

The time of occupation of each space is undetermined and varies depending on unpredictable external events (degradation, police, neighborhood). After having been inhabited, each shelter is abandoned as such on site. In two years, I used 17 interstices as shelters and 21 disused spaces as logistic support. This fragmentation of my environment generates a continuous moving through the city, close from nomadism. This experience of voluntary precarious life goes beyond the conventional field of art and the simple production of objects. The two years “performance” introduces the work in a political, urbanistic and social context which is necessary to a work that is directly inspired by contemporary society.

original text:
“Le temps d’occupation de chaque espace est indéterminé et varie en fonction d’évènements extérieurs imprévisibles (dégradations, police, voisinage). Après avoir été habitée, chaque construction est abandonnée et laissée sur place en l’état. En deux ans, 17 interstices me servirent d’abris et 21 espaces désaffectés, de support logistique. Cette fragmentation de mon environnement quotidien génère un déplacement constant à travers la ville, proche du nomadisme. Cette expérience de précarisation volontaire de mes conditions de vie dépassele champ conventionnel de l’art et la simple production d’objets. La “performance” de deux ans place l’oeuvre dans un contexte politique, urbanistique et social nécessaire à un travail ancré dans notre société contemporaine.”