Public space is a funny thing. People mostly seem to be avoiding each other or trying to make some form of meaningful contact… often, paradoxically, at the same time. The park bench is a perfect example of this — one person sits down and for the most part, that is now their bench. But what if benches were loads of fun to be around and on? Enter the amusing, interactive seating of Jeppe Hein.
Hein’s whimsical and sometime impractical benches blur the boundary between art and functional design, providing surfaces that are bent, folded, chopped and even very highly placed. Many of his “Modified Social Benches” are part of the 2012 Beaufort04: Fourth Triennial of Contemporary Art by the Sea. His benches line the seaside in De Haan Wenduine, Belgium, inviting strolling observers to examine the art and experiment with taking a seat. The wildly serpentine example below is part of a rooftop installation in Auckland.
Jeppe Hein’s incredibly creative body of work largely explores the interactive nature of art, from inside the gallery to massive installations outdoors. His works encourage viewers to re-examine their understanding of art while gently poking fun at more traditional views and standards. See his large portfolio at jeppehein.net.