Erasmusbrug / Rotterdam (NL)  2016

2016 is special in many ways. It marks 75 years of reconstruction in Rotterdam, the 20th anniversary of the iconic Erasmusbrug [bridge] and a quarter of a century of Studio VollaersZwart. All these elements come together in Wish You Were Here. The work is based on a prior Vollaers and Zwart design created for Queen Beatrix’s abdication two years ago, but which was never carried out due to Prince Friso’s death.

Wish You Were Here was inspired by the practice of festively dressing up ships with signalling flags as well as Buddhist traditional prayer flags, though the artists take it to a whole new level. The installation includes 3,500 flags attached to six km of cable lining the bridge’s braces using 7,000 tie-wraps. Their installation by eight climbers who abseiled the bridge was quite a spectacle and attracted a lot of media attention. The flags spell out quotes and wishes by Rotterdam celebrities in Morse code. Their orange colour symbolises the spirit of cooperation the city takes pride in. The spinnaker cloth they’re made of is pretty rigid and when the wind blows the flags snap against the metal structure making it sound like the bridge is applauding Rotterdam, its accomplishments and its inhabitants.

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