Interacting Fences is a ‘social distance’-inspired sculpture on display in Perth, Australia. It is the debut artwork by artists Georgia Taylor-Berry and Jesse Taylor. The sculpture is a part of the annual outdoor exhibition, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, and was awarded the inaugural Sculpture by the Sea Artists Award supported by the Minderoo Foundation. Interacting Fences is expected to receive 200,000 visitors between 5-22 March, 2021.
Interacting Fences encourages interaction, connection and communication, especially poignant during COVID times. The sculpture is a comment on the distance and division that currently exists within our culture, it offers a way forward through safe interaction and unity.
Georgia Taylor-Berry is an architect practicing in Amsterdam at Paul de Ruiter Architects. Both her and Jesse grew up in Perth, Western Australian where they both studied architecture. Jesse now lives in Los Angeles where he runs his own architecture and design studio called Social Works. Their accumulative work focuses on the intersections of social, environmental, and cultural sustainability.
Due to COVID travel restrictions, Interacting Fences was conceived and executed remotely, including the sculpture’s fabrication and opening in Perth. The COVID pandemic and required social distancing practices are the geneses of Interacting Fences. The sculpture emulates the physically-distant interactions that we have experienced through our phones, computers, or over our fences.
“By pulling and stretching traditionally rigid fencing into an arc that faces in on itself, the sculpture creates a whispering wall effect. Users sit at either end of the fence, physically distant, but audibly close, as the arc bounces sound from one end of the sculpture to the other,” says Georgia Taylor-Berry. “As designers it’s important to focus on how we can bring people together, safely, especially during these times.”
Jesse Taylor explains, “Interacting Fences offers a tool for socially-distant communication, but it this isn’t purely a reaction to COVID. We’re looking at ways to increase human connection in a culture that continues to grow divided through its focus on ownership and privatisation.”
To that end, Interacting Fences subverts the iconographic corrugated fencing present across Australian suburbia. What was once a physically toxic product (due to its asbestos makeup), continues to be so culturally, through its demarcation of boundaries that divide stolen land into property, and splits built environments into areas of public versus private.
We must re-think the intention of our society and its prioritisation of ownership over human connection. Interacting Fences translates the familiar and divisive fence into a mechanism of unification and shared experience.
Jesse and Georgia believe in the subtle but profound effects of our physical environments on society and continue to explore these themes through their work. Interacting Fences will be on display in Western Australia, Perth during the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe exhibition until the 22nd of March.