The City’s Useless Infrastructure as Art
May 21, 2012
Searching for the answers to life’s greatest mysteries? Let art take you by the hand and guide you on the right path! That’s what artist Akasegawa Genpei did when he decided to investigate the exact history and purpose of “Thomassons”, that is, pieces of infrastructure seemingly dysfunctional or unnecessary that nevertheless have managed to persevere as legible features of the urban landscape. With his students along for the ride, Genpei began to document these relics, beginning with a disused staircase appended to the back of a building, but which led to nowhere. The stairs, Geinpei muses in the video above, must have lost their base functionality after a second-generation renovation was undergone, deleting the entranceway they originally served and subsequently commuting their obsolescence. But what’s strange is that the staircases appeared to have been continuously maintained and even restored, despite their evident uselessness. Genpei concluded that this was more than “hyper-art” and devised the term Thomassons–after an import athlete who failed to perform up to his large salary–to more accurately describe their unique ability to not only resist the more destructive forces of capitalism but to pose a subversive front against them. The artist would eventually compile an entire books of these urban artifacts, which you can find here.