Aleksandra Mir

The Big Umbrella

PARIS—LONDON—DRESDEN—COPENHAGEN—MARTINIQUE—NEW YORK—Twice the radius of a typical big men’s umbrella. The Big Umbrella, was designed to shield up to 16 people from the rain. It was a cheerful and simply idyllic structure, but did 16 people want to crowd together to avoid getting wet? Does bad weather affect people differently in different parts of the world? To find out, I took my big umbrella on the road between 2003-2004, visiting 6 cities in as many countries. Traveling the world with a familiar object of uncanny proportions can have some unexpected effects. While The Big Umbrella proved useful as a tool for plucking down stray balls from trees, its unwieldy size on busy streets turned altruistic motives into harassment. Providing a shelter, it brought some strangers momentarily together, while alienating others, and in its most salient moments, simply amplified the solitude of the bearer