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Three Questions About Paola Pivi's
Inflatable Ladder

A mischievous use of place runs through Paola Pivi's art. She's taken horses up the Eiffel Tower and placed a helicopter upside down in a square in Salzburg. Her feathery neon bears invaded Galerie Perrotin in New York.

A giant ladder in primary hues, created for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, is another work of Pivi's that playfully nods to its setting. When Craig and Karl, our guest editors for In Colour, listed the influences behind their vibrant interventions in public space, this was on there. So we asked her some questions about the piece.


In your surreal short film The Bears Within, you discuss surprise and the lack of it. Can you talk a little about surprise in your work, particularly in Untitled (Project for Echigo-Tsumari)?

The huge inflatable ladder 20 metres high built in perfectly bright colours, resting on a high school building in a small rural village in Echigo Tsumari valley in Japan was a very surprising sight to say the least. I especially liked the connection with cartoons, as if a cartoon became reality in Echigo Tsumari because cartoons being drawn pose very few limits to imagination.

Paola Pivi ladderRight: Pivi created Untitled (Project for Echigo-Tsumari) for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in Niigata prefecture, Japan, where it leaned against an abandoned school. Photo: courtesy Galerie Perrotin. Right: the work in courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi. Photo: Martino Margheri, courtesy Palazzo Strozzi, as is the homepage image.

Tell us something about the colours you choose. Do you have favourites? 

My favourites are red, blue and yellow. No just kidding, but usually I go for bright full-on colours. My art is very colourful.

Paola Pivi bears
The feathered bears from Pivi's New York exhibition Ok, you are better than me, so what? The neon sculptures interview the artist in The Bears Within. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli, courtesy Galerie Perrotin.

Buildings often seem an integral part of your pieces. How does Untitled (Project for Echigo-Tsumari) relate to the Palazzo Strozzi museum in Florence where it was later displayed?

The ladder was born connected to the building of the school in Japan, but then it seemed impossible not to accept the invitation to put it in Palazzo Strozzi. It was just too beautiful to believe and again it really happened. I truly like that you say that buildings are part of my art, because I would like that to be true, like when I used the Eiffel Tower in my art Yee-haw, which is the one time I felt I was playing with the city and its history by placing horses on the tower. But you are totally right that I already played with the city and its buildings also in Echigo Tsumari and in Palazzo Strozzi, as well as in Salzburg with A helicopter upside down in a public space.

Paola Pivi helicopterA helicopter upside down in a public space, photo: Hugo Glendinning, courtesy Galerie Perrotin.

Our In Colour series explores the elusive and surprising phenomenon of colour in cities, with artists Craig and Karl as guest editors. The pair are working on a secret commission to transform one of White City's unloved spaces.

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