u-hall (2009)

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u-hall is a mobile space in which children enter to find themselves in a room with a live capture of the outside on both side walls. They find pens and are encouraged to draw on these walls. If they draw on a person, this new “accessory” will stick to the person throughout the entire frame. U-hall arrives in various neighborhoods with the goal of giving children a small sense of empowerment over their environments. This idea came to me while I was on vacation in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and the war erupted. Everything revolved around it, the latest updates and how it was going to be resolved. The TVs were always turned on with channels being flipped through to get all perspectives and any bits of “new” news. When the electricity was cut and the TV no longer available, conversations never deviated from analyses, updates and rumors. As adults, we all find some logic in illogical situations, but I was very much concerned about how children felt in all the mess. How do you explain this to a 7-year old? We were all trapped in this and they especially could not make sense of their world. I wanted to take them out of this environment and give them something else to do. Through u-hall, children focus on passers-by to change their looks in an experimental angle. I wanted this to be accessible to many neighborhoods and make it available to as many children as possible. So I quickly ruled out the format of an indoor installation and decided to have it in a truck increasing its mobility. This also added to the magical sense I was looking for, just as a bookmobile does. Because it is an unsuspecting truck from the outside, it gives it a feeling of “secret cave” increasing the feeling of adventure.