Even before you begin to try and understand Leandro Erlich’s sculptures and installations, you already begin to sense that something is different, downright uncanny.

Suited man coming down head first

All Parisians, little and big, want this picture where they pretend to climb up a building, tumble down the gray rooftop and hang off an iron balcony with their feet facing the sky and their head reaching for the ground. This partly explains the success of Argentine artist Leandro Erlich’s re-construction of Bâtiment at Centquatre, as part of its In_Perceptions collective exhibition, in September 2011. Originally created for Paris Nuit Blanche 2004, this monumental and vertiginous installation plays on the effects of a gigantic mirror which gives a truly exhilarating feeling of hanging off a four-story building, while safely lying on the ground.

People on the horizontal building looking at their vertical images.

The constructed building is typical Haussmann architecture with a stone faà§ade and wrought iron balconies that speaks to both Parisians and tourists — a real symbol of Paris. The building is horizontal, and the mirror offers the vertical sensation that invites visitors of all ages to “climb” without any effort and defy the laws of gravity. Children and adults marvel at their suspended mirrored images — and kids have to be constantly reminded to not climb onto the mirror itself. Like Alice in Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, who wouldn’t want to step through a mirror and enter into a fantasy world where climbing buildings is the norm? What a thrill!

Leandro Erlich has created a fun and interactive experience that is both individual and collective, real and unreal. Bâtiment is reinterpreted with each new visitor and is therefore constantly changing, a true living piece of artwork.

Bâtiment at Centquatre in Paris has been extended through August 4, 2012.

Centquatre Paris [map]
5, rue Curial
75019 Paris
Metro: Riquet

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