RIGHT ON THE BALL: Rocking & Rolling with Kurt Perschke
by Maha Majzoub
You probably saw it if you were in Abu Dhabi last year or in Taipei the year before that. And if you happen to be in England from June to July, you will likely see it dribble down the streets in time for the Cultural Olympiad. It is a 15-foot, inflated sphere that weighs 250 pounds and is always cloaked in red PVC fabric. It is Redball, the world famous sculptural installation by New York based artist Kurt Perschke.
Since 2001, RedBall has thrown caution to the wind and traveled across the globe, adopting cities as its canvas. Squeezed between buildings and underpasses, lifted up in town squares, and hoisted above bridges, RedBall explores the unique architectural landscape and history of each city it finds itself in. Examples include Toronto, Sydney, Barcelona, and St. Louis where RedBall’s expedition began following an urban site commission by the organization Arts in Transit. Perschke is also in the habit of documenting RedBall’s trips to every city with the most thrilling short films usually directed by Tony Gaddis of the U.S. based The Fountain Studio.
Overwhelming Kurtesy “Through the RedBall Project, I utilize my opportunity as an artist to be a catalyst for new encounters within the everyday. Through the magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the RedBall the work is able to access the imagination embedded in all of us,” Perschke explains. On the surface, the experience seems to be about the ball itself as an object, he continues. “But the true power of the project is what it can create for those who experience it. It opens a doorway to imagine what if?” It represents the immediate creative impulse that lies in all of us – the simple act of seeing afresh, he remarks. And as it is set in urban environments, the possibilities
Perschke sees delight in the eyes of kids who reach out to touch the colossal ball. RedBall’s humor, charm, and accessibility make it greatly appeal to adults as well who take part in carving the mobile sculpture’s experience in the city. “As RedBall travels around the world, people approach me on the street with excited suggestions about where to put it in their city. In that moment, the person is not a spectator but a participant in the act of imagination. I have witnessed it across continents, diverse age spans, cultures, and languages, always issuing an invitation. That invitation to engage, to collectively imagine, is the true essence of the RedBall Project,” Perschke adds. As Canadian art critic and curator Jeffrey Swartz puts it, “RedBall straddles the realms of formalist sculpture, street performance, ephemeral urban installation, and hands-on art object, without ever deciding for any one terrain over the others.”
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