Visitors to King’s Cross can now scan the night sky for an intriguing illumination, thanks to an artwork hovering over the area for the next two years. IFO (Identified Flying Object) lights up the sky by night and comes to rest on the ground by day as part of RELAY, an art programme that is being created for the King’s Cross redevelopment.
Anglo-French curating partnership Michael Pinsky and Stéphanie Delcroix have been selected to coordinate the first three years of a nine-year arts programme that is set to turn the King’s Cross area into a destination for discovering international contemporary art.
RELAY, the programme’s title, is inspired by: the carrying and preserving of the Olympic flame; King’s Cross as an international transport hub and a place in transition; the notion of the human chain - the transfer passengers at King’s Cross make from one means of transport to another - and the phasing of the development scheme.
The first RELAY installation, IFO, is by French artist and architect Jacques Rival. The bars of IFO’s 9m high, dome-shaped cage are wide enough apart to walk through, so visitors during the day can enter the cage and sit on the swing at its centre, enjoying the surroundings from this unusual vantage point. By night, the bars of the cage are illuminated in a brilliant array of colours and once a month the whole artwork will be hoisted up into the air by the biggest crane on the site.
“Jacques Rival’s response to King’s Cross is both poetic and pertinent”, say Pinsky and Delcroix. “This nomadic sculpture follows the flux and flow of this new district which is evolving day by day. Over the coming months IFO will be found over coffee kiosks, amidst the construction sites, on buildings and, of course, in the sky. Its structure will host seminars, cafes, gardens and performances”.
The area already has a rich tradition of artistic activity and is a hub for art lovers, with Kings Place on the doorstep and 5,000 staff and students from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, part of the University of Arts London, now based in King’s Cross.