“It is the artist’s business to create sunshine when the sun fails.” So wrote Romain Rolland in La Foire sur la place (1908), the fifth book in his 10-volume novel Jean-Christophe (written between 1904 and 1912). It is the story of the life of a great German musician forced by circumstance to live in exile and it’s also the quote Cica Ghost has selected to place with her installation Sunny Day, which opened on June 9th, 2018.
“I liked the quote,” Cica says of Rolland’s words – and indeed they suit the installation admirably. This is a place that is bound to bring the sunshine of a smile to visitor’s lips and have them warmed by its whimsy and delight. But the quote also – by chance it would seem – might also reflect the broader of the theme of Jean-Christophe.
From the landing point, visitors are invited along a series of offshore blocks and over a wooden walkway – beware of the great fish that seem ready to gobble the unwary should they stand on the walkway too long. On the landward side, a gateway bordered either side by flowers bids visitors to enter a little town of a most unusual kind.
This is a place where finger-like houses rise alongside lollypop trees, and the locals add their own splashes of colour as they stand outside homes or carry out duties such as tending goats, picking flowers or simply having fun. A pancake car, its shape reminiscent of a Volkswagen Beetle rolls around the single road surrounding the town while fish atop unicycle like poles rolls back and forth on large tyres. It is, in a word, a fanciful place.
The whimsy continues up in the sky, where two suns pulsate with happy smiles on their faces, while towards the back of the town a giraffe awaits those who would ride upon its back, and a sea monster keeps an eye on all who come and go from the waters to the south-east.
While Cica might not always be present in person, what might be her double – albeit without her usual black dress – can be found outside the Cat Shop to the north-east. With a basset hound on a leash beside her, she invites people into the open-sided store, where Cica’s delightful cats (introduced with 50 Cats – see here for more) can be found and purchased.
As noted, this is a setting that reflects the literal meaning of the Rolland quote: it is nigh-on impossible to pass through Sunny Day without feeling warmed by its light and sense of fun. As with all of Cica’s builds, be sure to mouse around, as there are several ways in which you can become a part of the setting. But how might it also reflect themes from Jean-Christophe, however accidentally?
Well, simply this: look closely at the characters scattered around the setting. There is a character with pointed ears, another is a neko. others are quite “ordinary” looking, while a white angel is easy to spot. All of them might be thought of as reflecting we, the denizens of Second Life. And Second Life is a country – of sorts – in which circumstance encourages us to spend time, just as circumstance (albeit it of a different flavour) forced Rolland’s protagonist, Jean-Christophe Krafft, to live his life in countries other than his own.
A tenuous reflection? Perhaps – and I leave it to you to determine whether you find it valid (I’m of course overlooking Rolland’s re-examination of Beethoven’s life through Jean-Christophe) – but if you do nothing else, do make sure you visit Sunny Day and enjoy the its warmth and light.
- Sunny Day (Nowhere City, rated; Moderate)