Through the RedBall Project I utilize my opportunity as an artist to be a catalyst for new encounters within the everyday. Through the magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the
RedBall the work is able to access the imagination embedded in all of us. On the surface, the experience seems to be about the ball itself as an object, but the true power of the project is what it can create for those who experience it. It opens a doorway to imagine what if? As RedBall travels around the world people approach me on the street with excited suggestions about where to put it in their city. In that moment the person is not a spectator but a participant in the act of imagination. I have witnessed it across continents, diverse age spans, cultures, and languages, always issuing an invitation. That invitation to engage, to collectively imagine, is the true essence of the RedBall Project. The larger arc of the project is how each city responds to that invitation and, over time, what the developing story reveals about our individual and cultural imagination.
RedBall Q&A with Kurt Perschke
Q. What was your inspiration for the RedBall Project?
A. The piece came directly out of my working with an urban site for a commission. I had been offered an opportunity to come up with an idea for one of three sites in St. Louis through the Arts in Transit program. I kept coming back to this ugly left over area underneath an overpass with a bit of gravel on it. It had clearly been added to my list because it was one of those leftover spots in a city, but I was drawn to the way the concrete bridge merged into the earth and the space it created. RedBall came out of my thinking about that space, and how to show what I was seeing.
Q. How does RedBall function as formal sculpture and encourage public engagement & fun?
A: I am very conscious of the history of sculpture in public places, its origins in monuments, and how that leads - for better or worse - into a perception of what public art should be today. RedBall is riffing on all that static mass in the permanent hierarchy, and instead exploring the space of a city. The urban environment is overbuilt and full of possibilities - the project is about seeing and playing with the sculptural spaces of a city. The humour and charisma of the piece allow it access to the city and invite others in to its story. Scale, tactility, physical presence, these are all tools of sculpture and here they are used as an invitation. Creating a sense of play is serious business.
Q: How doe our cities/towns compare to other RedBall cities? What is most exciting to you about bringing the project here?
A: That uniqueness will become clear when the project happens because it’s the public that really creates the story of a city. When I look back and think on cities the project has been to certain sites stand out, but beyond that it’s always the public on the street and how they react. In the end it’s about people, and I look forward to seeing how the city responds to the invitation. The project is not about the ball, it’s what the combination of site, the piece, and human energy creates.
Q: What are some of the more memorable RedBall reactions you have witnessed?
A: There have been many, many over the top reactions, costumes, toys, things I wouldn't go into. For me the most interesting is the businessman in Barcelona who reached behind his back to touch it so no one would see as he walked by. In every city there is a version of that, a kind of imposed restriction that suddenly seems odd next to RedBall. Of course for most people it’s simply joy.