Live fence

Walls, fences and balustrades are becoming a characteristic feature of the Polish landscape. High fences provide us with a sense of intimacy, of separation from our neighbors, they give us peace of mind. Why do we think it so important to clearly delineate the borders of our territory and to cover the windows from the eyes of people living nearby? Are the expanding “gated communities” becoming the symbol of our introvert society?

With my project I wanted to demonstrate that our need for building fences is just a reflection of our collective state of mind, as well as unwillingness to integrate with neighbours, who may have moved from another city and would gladly meet us. Fences are not indispensable, they do not have to separate us from others, what’s more, they may become a pretext for establishing new relations. I invited a number of volunteers to create a common, ‘integrating’ hedge. Each person became one of its links.

The project was also a performative study on gated communities. Researchers, dressed up as thuja trees divided people who were leaving their estates and asked about the reasons for choosing such place to live, as well as the pros and cons of gated communities. The human hedge diverged in front of a person only after she answered the questions. The test results were sent to all the real estate companies in Poland which developed or are currently developing gated housing estates.