The streets of Fairbanks, Alaska, aren’t where you would normally expect to find public art. But residents of the city have recently been treated to 10-stories of expression on the side of the Polaris building, an abandonded apartment complex, the city’s tallest building. It’s the latest project from artist and urbanist Candy Chang, whose work focuses on the relationship between people and the built environment of their cities.
Her project is one part of a project called Common Space launched by the Alaska Design Forum. The project was designed to rethink how we use our public spaces to engage with each other. Five artists came to five Alaskan cities to install art. Chang’s project, Looking for Love Again, asks Fairbanks residents what they could do with this large piece of unused space.
“There are these huge vacant buildings that slip into the backdrop of our cities. It’s a deceptive part of our modern landscape,” says Chang. “So I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if this ugly concerte highrise became a sort of beacon of emotion.” So she draped it in a huge sign that says: “Looking for Love.”
Drawn in by the building-sized sign, passersby will find chalkboards at the building’s base where they can write their dreams and hopes for what the buildings might become–anything from a hotel to a skate park. “It’s not the most beautiful building,” Chang says. “It’s not like Penn Station. But a lot of people have great ideas. It’s great to see how many people have written on the chalkboard, even drawn diagrams: ‘This floor will be for a Trader Joes; this floor will be for a gym.'”
It’s reminiscent of an earlier project of Chang’s, in which she asked New
Orleans residents to write what they wanted to do before they died on
the side of an abandoned building. As with that project, Looking For Love forces you to examine how the city you live in affects your life, and what you can do to shape a vision of the urban landscape for the better.
[Images: Candy Chang]