Ephemeral City at Barangaroo

art, Sydney

I love the idea of grand and ephemeral things that exist solely for the purpose of adding wonder to our lives. It’s the theatre person in me, as everything about theatre is fleeting, designed to last only a few days or weeks. In an era where we can document every nano-event and share it with the planet, I love something whose feeling and scope carries on only with a particular community – the people who came together to see the play or, in the case of Sydney Festival’s Ephemeral City, the cardboard city.

A massive installation at Sydney’s newest park precinct, Barangaroo, Ephemeral City is a village of buildings made of cardboard, all constructed by the visitors. That’s cool, right? Truly, it was.

The city was well underway when we arrived today, as it’s been under construction for a number of days now. It was quite the thing to walk into this space with these massive and impressive structures, and see so many people buzzing around, packing tape in hand, busy as a hive with the continued building of this corrugated village. 

I didn’t give it a try (I really should have), but those who wanted a different perspective on the landscape could zip-line above the construction.

We did, however, decide to add our construction skills to the project, especially given that the bulk of Hushpuppy’s waking hours are dedicated to erecting with anything that even remotely resembles building blocks. We asked a volunteer for a project, and he had us build a triangle. 

One triangle construction was about enough for her (and by “her” I mean “me”). We could be proud of our contribution.

We were pondering how they got the buildings so high – most of them were nearly touching the ceiling – and our question was answered when the staff started shepherding everyone to the building we’d been working on. “Time to lift the building!”

It took quite a bit of preparation, and I opted for us to watch rather than participate, but the building was surrounded by guests, hoisted a couple of meters into the air, the new level was placed underneath, and then everyone hastily got to work taping it together. 

We enjoyed being part of a moment in the short life of Ephemeral City. Thank you, Sydney Festival, for giving us the chance to come together and make our own little impact on something that exists for the sheer purpose of its own becoming.

The Ephemeral City will cease to be when it is demolished on Australia Day (Tuesday)!