This bench, made of colorful tiles laid out randomly, is called Twelve Level Bench. The furniture seems to be inviting passersby to sit down on it and relax, and indeed the artist Maider López created the work to show the symbiotic relationship between space and people. Although rigid in design with tiles that are made to precise dimensions, the space is surprisingly free, leaving the interpretation of it as art to be governed by its surroundings.
The tiles used for this bench are the same size as those used for the pavement, so the ground looks as though it has moved up to different levels. The artist wants to show the relationship between urban life and urban innovation and invites people to help construct her art by interacting with the piece. Twelve Level Bench can be used for multiple purposes: just relaxing, resting a coffee, leaning back, spreading a newspaper, waiting for friends, chatting, and playing games. The bench is placed by a bus stop, and the surrounding space is meant to be not just a place to take a rest, but also a meeting spot or place to chat with friends. The meaning of the space in which the artwork is located is thus essentially determined by who uses the bench and how they spend their time using it. In this way, Twelve Level Bench affects its surroundings, and in doing so transforms the space itself into a work of art.
If nothing happens in a place where nothing exists, you will still see nothing. But if somebody steps into the place, the appearance of the city will change. Twelve Level Bench can be seen as seeking to suggest how a city might be built.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Born 1975 in San Sebastián, Spain. López’s interest lies in interrupting norms in space and architecture, inviting people to experience common spaces in novel and potentially rewarding ways. She has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and beyond works that include Ataskoa at ARTIUM (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain) and the 51st Venice Biennale (Italy, 2005), AdosAdos at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain, 2007), Eclats at Centre Pompidou Metz (France, 2010), Mom, Am I Barbarian? at the 13th Istanbul Biennial (Turkey, 2013) and 4th Les Ateliers de Rennes Biennial (France, 2014), and 1645 Pieces of Chalk at Matadero Madrid (Spain, 2016).