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Dezeen's top 10 installations of 2019

Next up in our review of 2019, Kristine Klein picks out the 10 most arresting installations on Dezeen, including Banksy's pop-up, pink seesaws slotted between the border wall and a sauna at Burning Man.


Gross Domestic Product, UK, by Banksy

British graffiti artist Banksy opened up a "for display purposes only" pop-up shop in East Croydon to showcase his merchandise, which is for sale online. The retail space was created in response to actions by a greeting card company trying to "seize legal custody" of his name.

The installation in Croydon consists of a series of window displays that contain several works of art created by Banksy, including the stab vest worn by rapper Stormzy for a concert this summer. Many of the retail products were made exclusively for the online shop and include t-shirts and mugs adorned with the artist's famous works.

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The Starry Night, The Netherlands, Ivana Jelić and Pavle Petrović

To highlight the issue of light pollution in urban areas, Serbian artists Ivana Jelić and Pavle Petrović installed a series of LED lights that together form Van Gogh's Starry Night over a canal in Amsterdam.

Using 1,400 acrylic rods illuminated by small LED lights the designers were able to imitate the artist's brushstrokes and recreate the painting's swirling night sky pattern.

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Steam of Life, USA, JKMM Architects

Finnish studio JKMM brought a sauna to this year's Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. To create the circular pavilion, Steam of Life, the team of architects stacked timber slabs.

The interior was lined with benches and an open atrium for cooling down and meditative relaxation formed the centre of the structure. Apart from the sauna stove, which was transported from Finland, all of the building materials were locally sourced.

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Mirage house, Switzerland, Doug Aitken

American artist Doug Aitken built a ranch-style residence clad in mirrors for a site in Switzerland surrounded by mountains, where it will stay for two years. The reflective material of the building casts the scenic landscape, which changes with the seasons, across its exterior.

Inside the mirrored structure kaleidoscopic panels installed on the walls and ceilings refract light and distort the interiors.

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The Secret of the Great Pyramid, France, JR

French artist JR placed a massive optical illusion made from thousands of paper stickers on the grounds surrounding IM Pei's Louvre pyramid in Paris, to celebrate the building's 30th anniversary.

The collage, which measured 17,000 square metres, formed an imaginative image that proposed the continuing underground construction of the iconic triangular structure. JR's work was only on display for one day, the museum's daily stream of visitors left the piece in shreds.

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US-Mexico border wall seesaws, USA, Mexico, Rael San Fratello

Rael San Fratello inserted three pink seesaws between metal slats of the US-Mexico border wall, so that children on either side can play together. The playground equipment was inserted along the portion of the wall that extends from El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juárez in Mexico. Rael produced the installation through a collaboration with Taller Herrería, a workshop located in Ciudad Juárez.

"The wall became a literal fulcrum for US-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side," the designer said on Instagram.

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Unzipping Milan building, Italy, Alex Chinneck

For Milan design week British artist Alex Chinneck installed a giant zipper on the face of a historic Venetian building to give the illusion that it is being peeled open. The installation was created for vape and tobacco brand Iqos.

The 17-metre-wide facade features a large zipper on its right side designed to create an opening that reveals bright lights. Inside the edifice, sculptural zippers attached to the interior walls and a circular opening on the floor also reveals glowing lights.

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For Forest, Austria, Klaus Littmann

Klaus Littmann planted 300 trees in Wörthersee Stadion, a football arena, in Klagenfurt, Austria to send a message about the anthropocene, deforestation and climate change. For Forest replicates the the types of plantings typically found in European forests.

It memorialises nature as an "artistic sculpture" and was designed to gather people together so that they contemplate the environment and the importance of its protection.

After the installation closed the hundreds of trees were re-planted on a nearby plot of land. A wooden pavilion that provides visitors with educational information accompanies the small forest.

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Sight, Greece, Antony Gormley

British sculptor Antony Gormley placed 29 humanoid sculptures atop hills, inside architectural ruins and along the coast line of the Greek Island Delos near the Aegean sea. Works in Gormley's collection titled Sight were made using iron and formed abstract versions of human bodies.

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades and commissioned by Neon, a nonprofit art foundation.

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Desert X installations, USA, Sterling Ruby, John Gerrard and Pia Camil

Works by 18 artists and groups including Sterling Ruby, John Gerrard and Pia Camil were featured in a series of installations displayed at the biennial art festival Desert X in California's Coachella Valley. The arid landscape, located East of Los Angeles, is the site of the annual Coachella music festival.

Highlights of the exhibition were Sterling Ruby's monolithic rectangular block coated in fluorescent orange and Lover's Rainbow by Pia Camil, made from arched rebar, painted every colour of the rainbow. Camil realised the work as the twin for a matching sculpture located on the other side of the US-Mexico border, the piece sheds light on the current immigration policies between the United States and Mexico.

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