Cristina Lucas

Cristina Lucas, Touch and Go, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Cristina Lucas, Touch and Go, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Many people in Liverpool will have been familiar with a building on the edge of Chinatown with distinctive rows of windows and the memorable sign across the façade, recalling the company that occupied it: ‘Europleasure International Ltd’. This building exemplified the thriving economy that continued to be expressed through the urban fabric of many western cities until the last two decades of the twentieth century. The companies have long since vanished, but their ghostlike monuments have remained. Until early 2015, The ‘Europleasure building’ was an obsolete remnant, a memento of a past economic era. The signage on the façade, with its connotations of materialist excess, was poignantly incongruous against the dilapidation and decay.

In Touch and Go, a film that was newly produced for Touched, the artist considered the fate of humankind and the built environment as it is caught in the eddies and flows of an unpredictable globalised economy. The video documented a group of unionists and their families throwing stones at the façade of the building. Their act of transgression initially appeared as an unpremeditated and uncontrolled outburst of freedom and anomie, but then revealed a message in broken glass. As the windows shatter – as if blown outwards or violently compressed – the jagged cavities gradually spelt out the words ‘touch and go’. 

The expression referred to a momentary act of physical contact, as well as alluding to uncertainty, intermittence and risk. It alluded both to the direct impact and to the transience of large-scale global enterprise. Lucas (b.1973, Spain)’s work referenced the imagery of the 1968 riots and rallies in Paris (as in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers) when workers, students and the bourgeoisie hit the streets in protest together. This blatant act of public vandalism clearly conveys frustration and anger across the social classes, and the fall of political illusion and idealism. The participants emblematically recall the revolutionary spirit of the late 1960s and question its meaning and relevance today.

Lucas’s work is a tribute to the force and fragility of a system that has reconfigured our urban environments and then passed on, leaving only remnants in decay. As the artist suggests, we are both affected by and also implicated in the situation; at once vulnerable to its impact, and yet able to inscribe our own marks in the system.

Cristina Lucas at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Touch and Go, 2010
Single-channel video projection
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2010
Exhibited at Europleasure / Scandinavian Hotel

Supported by

Gobierno de España
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation