Suspire (for ICC's control room)

Cyprien Gaillard
Vitrified asbestos, found footage on CCTV monitor (12 sec)

There is something supernatural about the process of melting a toxic substance into a quasi-organic, crystalline form. Cyprien Gaillard installs blocks of Cofalit that were once asbestos onto the table of the control centre of the ICC, reactivates some of the original CCTV monitors and recounts, in this installation that was specifically created for the ICC, the power of transformation and the passing of time.

Blocks of Cofalit installed in the ICC’s control room, in front of reactivated CCTV monitors.

Cyprien Gaillard: Detail of Suspire (for ICC’s control room). The Sun Machine Is Coming Down

© Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

Cofalit is the product of a costly heating process of asbestos-like construction waste that is conducted by the French company Inertam. In its specific exhibition site in the ICC, a glass room embedded in the floor in which the servers of the conference centre still communicate via data streams today, the installation becomes the nucleus of the question regarding the reassessment of “grey energy”. Cyprien Gaillard centres the debate on the rehabilitation of buildings plagued by contamination that surrounds the ICC, around their lowest common denomination of origin: the element itself whose apparent “disposal” in the ground is no longer an option, meaning that it must be transformed in order to be rendered harmless and productively incorporated into the circular economy of resources. In the installation, the transformed hazardous material rests, like a mineral promise of salvation, in a glass coffin at the deepest part of the ICC that is safely accessible. The steel girders in the foundation coated with Cafco, the successor to asbestos, are, together with the sheets of asbestos in the core of the building’s structure, the reason for several years of disuse in the first place. What chance of resurrection does an architectural icon have whose threat lurks within its own body and whose dysfunctional supply, building and media technologies constitute the even larger and even more expensive question of modernisation?

Cyprien Gaillard has reactivated the original model of cathode ray tube televisions that transmit scenes from the surroundings of the ICC to its interior via surveillance cameras. He combines them with personal film material, a 12-second-long Pinocchio parade in which animated figures move through found footage images from surveillance cameras on roofs of buildings. The surveillance image, which captures events in real time in order to monitor the environment, becomes the backdrop of the fantasy where Disney characters open the portal to the world of fiction. Seen from the outside, the crystalline space with Pinocchio in its stomach becomes Monstro, the whale that swallows Gepetto and Pinocchio, serving as an adaptation of the biblical story of Jonah. The dance parade creates light reflections on the surface of the Cofalit, which, as a transformed toxin in the ICC, a piece of architectural heritage without a clear future, bears witness to the beauty of the ruinous.