Untitled (Escort), public sculpture for the Biennale für Freiburg (Freiburg), 2023
Made in collaboration with Yong Xiang Li

Foto: Sévérine Kpoti, © Biennale für Freiburg 2

Foto: Sévérine Kpoti, © Biennale für Freiburg 2

To be oriented means to align oneself with a fixed, familiar point. Out in the countryside or in parks, it is often maps that provide orientation and present routes based on natural landmarks. But which parameters do we orient our-selves against without these guidelines? 

Looking towards the lake, a picturesque scene emerges—between continuous lines of trees, between the road and the water, a sloping meadow opens up, lined by reeds on the lakeside: A picture postcard idyl. The artificial nature of the scenery here is the starting point of UNTITLED ( ESCORT) (2023) by Yong Xiang Li and François Pisapia. The wooden structure blends into the surroundings; it seems marked by wind and weather. During the day, it resembles an information board for maps and hiking trails. At first glance it seems to be empty, standing alone like an inconspicuous commentary on the surrounding landscape. But as dusk falls, the board illuminates, gradually becoming the center of attention. It becomes a magnet for insects, a landmark in the darkness—a small universe around which animals and people orbit. 

Heading down to the lower bank, one can spot narrow trails either side of the board, running parallel to the paved footpath—these are also known as desire paths. They often occur when the shortest or easiest route to a destina-tion does not correspond to the prescribed path and people, or animals, take their own route instead. 

In green spaces and parks, official and unofficial usages often merge— streets, forests, and architecture become territories in their own right, repeatedly charged with new meaning. UNTITLED (ESCORT) uses two temporalities, day and night, to unite the different ways that the Seepark is used. The piece raises questions about the intention and reality of these spaces, while also functioning as a commentary on, and agent within, a place it occupies temporarily. 

-Text by Paula Kommoss