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Friday, May 24, 2024

Trojan Rocking Horses to gallop downtown West Palm Beach

A herd of Trojan Rocking Horses will be corralling downtown, thanks to an ambitious, inspirational, large-scale community engagement project that will seek the visions of kids and how they see the future.

The project will unfold in several steps. The chosen artist, award-winning Finnish designer Marco Casagrande, will monitor, supervise, and ultimately design the horses.

Marco runs Casagrande Laboratory, a multidisciplinary architecture and innovation company with projects that range from one-family houses to apartment buildings, and from environmental art to landscape architecture using biourbanism which focuses on the urban organism, considering it as an overall hyper-complex system, working with internal and external dynamics and their interactions.

“First I need to get children’s dreams and talk about their dreams about how the city should be,” Marco says by phone from Finland. “The Trojan Rocking Horse, a mixture of a toy and children’s imagination, will eventually land on the adult real life of the street. This strong toy, made of steel, is going to harvest their dreams and it’s going to protect them, bring their dreams to the Mayor and the authorities who can help them come true.”

Casagrande has been holding workshops around West Palm Beach, talking to kids since January 14th.

The Trojan horse originally had an army hidden inside. This time, they’re bringing a horse to the city, but they’re not bringing an army. They’re bringing visions and the horse will rock.

The horses he fabricates will be adult-size. To move them he will attach wheels. For the Trojan Horses, he says children have the most “real energy” so he tries to work with that.

“I want people to get curious and ask, what is this about? If you have a dream or a wish or a suggestion for how the city should go, you can write a letter, make a drawing, and put it into the rocking horse, kind of a moving mailbox.”

Casagrande hails from Lapland, a small town in the Arctic so he says a city for him is a very alien place. He used this outsider knowledge when he began designing architecture that was more of an installation from an ecological point of view.

He speaks of design as “urban acupuncture that somehow becomes a touchpoint for urban energies in specific places”

“For me, this is urban acupuncture. What we’re doing, touching the main pulse of the city. If you think of acupuncture in terms of Chinese medicine, you are manipulating energy in the human body, and I see the body as an organism. I want to find these energies that are flowing in the city, and I want to touch them, and I want them to surface. And the Trojan Horse is my acupuncture needle.”

Casagrande says that “architecture is often just pollution, so it matters how we handle ourselves and how we handle our cities. We’re part of nature no matter what you do.”

Casagrande is creating this as a global, holistic project, bringing in Eastern and Western philosophies, Greek Trojan horses, and acupuncture. It’s very layered.

“I look at the community in the United States, people are coming in with all different kinds of beliefs and different kinds of subconscious and dreams.  All these bubbling communities and interactions between people – it’s a nest of human energies. I want to make this connection to the real city. And then that’s where the horse is, moving in between this dream world and reality and bringing messages of the future.”

West Palm Beach is not a very old city. It started as a workers’ city for the wealthy people in Palm Beach, then a lot of it was torn down in the 80s, and now it’s being rebuilt. Such a good place for a city of dreamers.

Casagrande hopes that some of the kids will dream of being an architect once they see the horses.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the children. They can tell me their dreams or draw their dreams or make a collage or draw with me. I will feel it. It’s a different world for children now. They have access to so much more, but no matter what they are exposed to or what media they’re using I will find the real kid inside them and hook up with that. And that kid will draw with me.”

To him this is not about design, it’s about the reality of dreams.

The Design of the eight Trojan Rocking Horses by local children will be the first phase, then local fabrication of the steel horses based on the designs. A procession of the horses from eight locations in the city to Downtown will occur and a celebration when the horses converge at the City Hall courtyard.

From February to March, eight horses will be fabricated at the Loxahatchee home workshop of retired master welder Jerry Hobbs. Jerry mostly provides space and welding equipment. Fabrication will be done by Marty Ross, an Alaska native and former pipeline worker/welder turned international artist.

Between March 6 and 10, the eight horses will begin a multi-day journey from each of the eight locations. A network of volunteers will lead each horse. Along the way, residents will be asked to submit aspirational messages about the future of West Palm Beach and put them into the horse, which acts like a mailbox. The messages are an “invitation to dream” about the possibilities for the future.

On March 10, the eight horses will converge together at the Clematis water fountains and then parade together down Clematis Street to the City Hall courtyard. Dignitaries will read select messages.

After the event, the horses will be adopted by “stewards,” who will keep them on display in various locations throughout Downtown.

Trojan Rocking Horses to gallop downtown West Palm Beach

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