How does a fence separate space? I set about addressing this question by analysing the mythology of the fence, which brings to mind references to the Great Wall of China and Donald Trump’s border wall. Objects to keep others out and create a clear definition of us and them.
The fence as object embodies these values and these values are reinforced by design, through material choice, form and function.
Palisade fences are ubiquitous the world over, where their aggressive design and ease of assembly have made them popular with land-owners who want to keep people out. Unlike the impermeable wall, the palisade fence allows partial (visual) access to what is beyond and, while this is primarily a deterrent to trespassers, it is also a compromise on a solid wall that makes it an intriguing border object, at once passive and aggressive.
Over time we become accustomed to fences, learning to ignore their nature, and in an attempt to break down this relationship I set about engaging directly and tangibly with fences. This raised questions about where the border really lies and whether there is, or can be, a public side to a fence. It also made me question how we engage with aggressive objects, and whether their aggressive qualities (spikes, steel, hardness etc) outweigh their passivity.
Ultimately, my questioning led me to creating a ladder. Constructed from a number of rough and ready fixing materials, and using loud brash colours, this ladder subverts fences, allowing users to get up and over, and does so while stealing the fences visual vocabulary.
It adopts the aggressive nature of the fence, however it cannot adopt its passivity. For ladders, by their nature, are active objects and have no passive functionality.