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The project “O”, authored by five people. All accompanying photos are from the LIFT 11 archives

A Lovely Catastrophe

Project “O”, the work of five people, is one large, black ball. It outsizes a person in height, but it is filled with air, so it's rather easily moved. A strong shove is all that's necessary to get it going. The creators of “O” are the artists Andra Aaloe, Flo Kaserau and the architects Aet Ader, Grete Soosalu and Kaarel Künnap, who is also a poet.

The authors' idea was to create an object that gains its meaning from the surrounding environment. In the narrowest of streets the ball seems huge – it blocks the way and people have to deal with the object somehow. By the sea or next to high-rises, “O” looks relatively small. The sphere can clumsily knock something over, or it can serenely and meditatively roll about. Its weight and material are also not easy to guess. 

At first, the idea was to place it in the streets of Tallinn where, whether they want to or not, pedestrians would have to deal with it. The black ball would have to be rolled, pushed out of the way, or somehow squeezed by. But City Hall deemed the performance dangerous because the ball could roll unto the street, into the way of traffic. So the installation has been realized in a more organized manner – it is periodically moved to a specified location, and one of the authors must be present at all times and take responsibility that everything goes along safely.

“O” manages to faithfully fulfill its hoped-for role; while filming a television clip about the festival in Toompark, the big, black “catastrophe”was uncontrollable – it rolled into the bushes and bouncingly changed directions, contrary to the plans of the filming team.

The impressive ball “O” has also proved to be a successful marketing tool for the festival. I admit that when I was surfing through all of the information about the event and the accompanying barrage of images, I, too, was first hooked by the big, black sphere. During his visit to Riga, the Tate Galleries' Director of Audiences and Media, Marc Sands, pointed out that marketing must always choose the object that best catches the eye. It will create interest about the event as a whole, even though the individual may end up finding something completely different that catches their eye even more. But you must always have a hook.