We Make Money Not Art

Interview- dec 2010

Read the interview with We Make Money Not Art about 'The Other Volcano' project, here

Should you be interested in accommodating a small volcano in your living room, designer Nelly Ben Hayoun has one ready to cover your interior with dust and erupt gloop on your carpet. While the first prototype is still a fairly modest and manageable size, The Other Volcano aims to build a series of semi-domesticated volcanoes that would almost reach the ceiling and provide you with all the discomfort you can expect from this new breed of geological pet. The mini volcano would be housed for a couple of weeks in the living spaces of volunteers, long enough to generate a love-hate relationship between them and a 'sleeping giant' that promises domestic explosions and a range of visual effects that the owner of Xanadu himself would envy.

The designer, who benefited from the scientific expertise of Dr Carina Fearnley and the pyrotechnic skills of Austin Houldsworth writes:

With The Other Volcano I will try to question the domestication of nature for entertainment purposes.

How would you deal with a live volcano in the middle of your living room? Would you try to destroy it? Would you just disconnect it from the mains? Would you be more popular because you share your life with a volcano? Would you invite people to see it, and switch it on at the end of the meal to create a 'surprising' effect? How will you feel when you will
climb on top of it?

The Other Volcano relates very much to my preoccupation with the juxtaposition of the epic with banal details, the extreme with domestic.

The Other Volcano is currently gracing (if not endangering) the window of the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road, London. I wanted to ask Nelly a few questions before The Other Volcano moves to a more homely location:

You worked with the volcanologist Dr Carina Fearnley (Lecturer in Environmental Hazards at the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University) on the Volcano project. Can you tell us how this collaboration started?  And was she mostly a source of information or did her opinions modified in any way the original vision you had of the volcano?

Before meeting up with Dr Carina Fearnley, I think I have scared a few volcanologists! It all seems to be part of the process of my projects.

Before for the Soyuz chair, I managed to terrify some astronauts when I jumped on them after their lecture, with my 'Cosmic Drive Rocket' jacket, to ask them to be part of the project. Even worse was when I wanted to generate dark energy in my kitchen sink or when I decided to do a neutrino observatory in my bathroom!