French Artist Creates Ethereal Cardboard Bridges Suspended by Balloons

Flying Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

Photo: Alex Nollet

For over 20 years, French artist Olivier Grossetête has been creating what he calls Participative Monumental Constructions. Made with the assistance of local communities, these ephemeral pieces of architecture are erected using only cardboard boxes and tape. Grossetête works without the assistance of machinery, using only the help of local participants to bring these fantasy pieces to life. While this architecture can take many forms, we're particularly partial to the floating cardboard bridges that are a recurring theme.

From Japan to France to Italy, these bridges take their cues from local architecture. Often lifted by balloons, the final installations are as much a lesson in physics as they are in architecture. The pieces, which are designed and constructed over the course of a week with the help of 15 to 30 workshop participants, are intended to live for just a few days. After which time, they're carefully broken down into their previous forms.

“Ephemeral by nature, like us, these monumental participatory cardboard constructions are destined to disappear. Their stake is, therefore, as much in the process, in the journey, and in the collective experience they propose, as in their final forms. This ‘suspended' bridge, inaccessible in essence, ultimately connects us to ourselves: an image of our relationship with the unspeakable,” shares the artist.

Grossetête turned to cardboard not only because it's inexpensive and easy to find, but also because as a material, it's not intimidating. By using a material that is accessible to everyone, he's able to easily draw in volunteers to accomplish the collective goal in a short amount of time. And by working together, they're effortlessly able to construct impressive pieces of architecture that can weigh more than one and a half tons.

French artist Olivier Grossetête uses cardboard boxes and tape to create floating bridges.

 

Cardboard Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

Photo: Mucha

Cardboard Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

Photo: Olivier Grossetête

Built during community workshops with the help of local volunteers, they're often suspended by balloons.

Flying Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

Photo: Olivier Grossetête

Flying Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

These ephemeral structures are disassembled just a few days after they take flight.

Bridge Installation by Olivier Grossetete in Japan
Bridge Installation in Rome

Photo: Mantuano/French Embassy in Rome

Flying Bridge by Olivier Grossetête

Photo: Olivier Grossetête

Bridge Installation in Rome

Photo: Mantuano/French Embassy in Rome

Olivier Grossetête: Website

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Olivier Grossetête.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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