Ingo Maurer: be provoked or die (of boredom)

Mutation, positive or negative, gives a very strong tension. Ingo Maurer, an industrial designer and light craftsman, believes this is necessary since it serves as instigator; a fundamental part of our daily lives, according to Maurer. If we were not intellectually challenged we would get bored in no time. Just imagine being surrounded by monotony, dullness, and constant routine every day for months or years on end. The same people, the same conversations, the same activities, the same lunch, and so on and on and on. If this sounds like your daily life, do something about it. Go out and push yourself. Walk instead of taking a cab. Run 3 miles instead of 2. Watch 5 seasons of a show in a day. Conquer France. You get my point. Being able to feel and see these deviations in the world around us is very important for our development.

My absolute favorite project by Ingo has to be “ablaze – sentimento (s)travolgente” simply because of all the ways I can imagine his thought process going. It might have gone something like “I want to build a shack. But I want it to be black. Plus it’ll be orange on the inside. And I want it to be tilted and the whole thing will be on fire”. The best thing is he actually went out and completed this mad dream with Axel Schmid. Now, it’s not actual fire that lights up this beautiful piece of art, although Maurer makes it clear that he absolutely would have made that happen had it not been prohibited by the installation’s host. They had to fake this image of a burning house and they did it with a twist. They painted it black for several reasons. They wanted the shack to represent charcoal, burnt wood, and other recognizable flammable materials, but the black paint also made it seem like a silhouette. This illusion of it being the shape of the shack combined with the distortion of the walls in unusual angles makes it (in Axel Schmid’s words) a more powerful icon. They contrasted this dark outside with a colorful and intense orange on the inside. The intensity of the inside’s color was emphasized with a mirror and lights, making it brighter and giving it a hotter appearance. And the smoke? Easy. Fog machine. The result of this strategy speaks for its effectiveness. Even if we can tell the house is not actually on fire, I hope you can take this piece for what it is trying to symbolize and make you feel rather than the literal, physical result you can observe.

Ingo Maurer's Ablaze house at night

You can imagine how a burning house might not be considered sensitive art by the general public. It might be regarded as an offensive project, but this emotional impact was Maurer’s goal with this work. He wants to turn heads, raise questions, make you uncomfortable, break the chains of monotony, and punch you in the gut. In my opinion, he does a great job of it.

 

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