The neon sculpture HAHA HIHI (1993, right) adds a refreshing note to the cacophony of advertising signs and tacky shops in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. HAHA HIHI is a chandelier by John Körmeling and instead of using candles it shows the words ‘HA’ and ‘HI’ in bright neon colors.
Körmeling has been called an architect, a visual artist, an inventor and a freethinker. The range of his work is equally diverse: Light sculptures, comic strip-like drawings with visual and verbal witticisms, sketches of viable and imaginary structures, models and unconventional solutions to spatial planning problems, such as Happy Street for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.
Körmeling is at his best in the public space and urban planning areas. His unique working style and surprising perspective on everyday things convey the relativistic humor that emanates from his works. Körmeling exposes the absurdity and banality of everyday life by means of rapid associations. He makes complex citations understandable and simple facts grotesque.
HAHA HIHI laughs at the people who move like ants through the airport. But it does not condescend. Rather, it asks us to join in on the fun. At the same time, it encourages people to pause and reflect on their environment and their behavior in the building.
Evoking a smile or a frown even if just for a moment, Körmeling’s works are simple yet rigorous, and his tactics are always friendly.
Content should aspire to the same standards.