Grand Paris Express, Fort d’Issy-Vanves-Clamart station
In the beginning of 2016 SUPERFLEX was asked to develop a concept for the Grand Paris Express’ new metro station Fort d’Issy-Vanves-Clamart. In June SUPERFLEX presented the 6 year long, large-scale commission 'Alice'. With Alice, SUPERFLEX offers an artistic concept, a political and social development of the Grand Paris Express for the coming 6 years of the construction period. In dialogue with the designer of the station, architect Philippe Gazeau, SUPERFLEX will create works across the site until the opening of the station in 2022 in order to engage neighbors and future users in the development of the station and new surroundings.
The concept of Alice was born when SUPERFLEX visited Paris in spring 2016 and were introduced to an abandoned house. Inside the house they discovered several childrens' paintings, drawings, and writings on the wall. The illustrations were made by the two young sisters who used to live in the house. SUPERFLEX was moved by these ‘goodbye’ drawings to their beloved house – especially one drawing of a rabbit, made by the youngest 7-year-old sister Alice, caught their attention. At this point the interest and inspiration for the project were shaped — the similarities to the fairytale Alice in Wonderland were striking. The initial imagining and construction of the Parisian metro in the mid 19th century coincides with the writing of the book Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, better known as Alice In Wonderland, and SUPERFLEX decided to take inspiration from Alice in Wonderland as a gateway to the imagination to support the transformation of the past to the present and the future.
SUPERFLEX has merged the story of the real-life French girl Alice who was forced to move with her family due to the construction of the metro, with the story of Alice in Wonderland. In Alice in Wonderland the rabbit shows Alice the rabbit hole where she falls through time and space — similarly SUPERFLEX works with the idea about the subway system as such rabbit hole.
When Alice reaches the end of the rabbit hole, she ends up in a strange and unrealistic space. As inspiration from this specific scene, SUPERFLEX will create wayfinding and installatory work around the Metro Station in different and odd-scaled shapes and sizes to create illusions and twisted conceptions of the area. Collecting cards inspired by the playing cards in Alice in Wonderland, explain the story and concept of each of the objects, such as the big blue chair, the rabbit, the key holes and the tiles.
As a part of the concept, the ‘real’ Alice will be consulted every time SUPERFLEX needs guidance to make new decisions. Alice has for example decided the name and blue colour of the bridge connecting the platforms at the station, and her rabbit will pop up around the sites to guide people in the right direction. The ground surfaces of the area will be covered with tiles inspired by motifs from the old house. Furthermore, throughout the construction phase SUPERFLEX will be hosting workshops for the locals in order to develop an object-memory-bank. The objects will later form the material of a terrazzo floor for the site. The terrazzo floor will also be used for certain areas of the thresholds of the station to function as way finding. The floor will appear as an archaeological compost and a mosaic of lives that constitute the neighborhood. This is where the story began and it is here that future generations will walk.
In this way, Alice is longer sad about moving from the old house, and can influence the new place of transition and transformation which is taking form as the Fort d’Issy-Vanves-Clamart station. When Alice turns 18 she will put her final mark on the station as she can decide any object she wants to bring back from a travel and place it as a landmark on the station. First then Alice’ journey in Wonderland as ended and SUPERLFEX can declare the new metro station as open.