The glee was written right across Hugh’s face as he opened a closed fist to reveal a single red piece of LEGO. For fair reason. On Front of House duty during the exhibition Demented Architecture, he was one of many charged with overseeing the very specific and at times chaotic audience interaction with the work and each other unleashed by Olafur Eliasson’s Cubic Structural Evolution Project (2004) which dumps thousands of pieces of gleaming white LEGO onto a communal table, and then sits back to observe the drama. Often pitched as a for-all-ages community participation project, it has a darker heart which lays open the best and the worst of human behaviour, both promoting and ridiculing the meglomania of world-builders.
All sorts of structures were built and destroyed. But, in hindsight, the most telling intervention might have been the dropping of that single red LEGO brick into this pristine white world, trumping the work’s own game. As protocol would dictate, the contaminant was quickly extracted. But rather than take it to the Registrar, Hugh brought it directly to the curator. He rightly understood it as a conceptual intervention into the project, an act of resistance and agency on behalf of all participants against the exhibition. We both laughed, and pretended that he didn’t do it.
I was happy to find it today on the floor behind the desk.