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Friday, December 8, 2023

‘Rooftopping’ Is Standard on Instagram, however the Dangers Are Excessive


Remi Lucidi, a sergeant within the French Military, died removed from a battlefield. His physique was discovered final week apart a Hong Kong skyscraper the place he had been noticed close to the rooftop.

In his spare time, Mr. Lucidi, 30, was a “rooftopper,” shorthand for somebody who takes photographs and selfies from the tops of tall buildings, typically by trespassing. After his demise was reported, some Instagram customers debated the worth and objective of his artwork, which concerned clambering onto ledges and antennae in cities throughout Europe, Asia and the Center East.

To buddies and admirers, Mr. Lucidi’s spine-tingling photographs had been the work of a gifted, stressed adventurer. To his critics, they had been a case research in reckless risk-taking.

That debate mirrors tensions inside a broader motion known as “city exploration,” or “urbex,” one that’s typically related to individuals who trespass with a view to inform the tales of deserted properties. Rooftopping is a part of urbex, however a lot of its practitioners are extra all in favour of producing social media content material than in exploring marginal city landscapes with a quasi-academic spirit.

In an excessive instance, the Russian mannequin Viki Odintcova dangled from a Dubai skyscraper with out security gear. Her stunt generated greater than 1.6 million views after she posted it on Instagram in 2017, and loads of criticism.

“To Mannequin Viki Odintcova: That Picture Was Actually Not Price Risking Your Life,” learn the headline of a Forbes commentary. (She didn’t reply to a request for remark.) A number of others all over the world have died whereas rooftopping lately.

Criticism typically comes from inside the urban-exploration motion. A distinguished rooftooper, the Toronto-based photographer Neil Ta, stop the observe a few decade in the past, saying that he had been disillusioned to see the pastime flip right into a contest over who might take essentially the most harmful footage. Different critics are urbex veterans who object to the rooftopping ethos.

“Rooftopping is concentrated extra on the fun and the expertise of being in excessive, vertiginous and threatening areas, whereas urbex explores deserted locations in a method that’s safer, extra documentational and historic in nature,” HK Urbex, a collective of masked explorers in Hong Kong, mentioned in an announcement.

HK Urbex, whose members enterprise into deserted or harmful websites throughout the Chinese language territory as a method of exploring its historical past, mentioned that rooftoppers have died all over the world from a mix of inexperience, overconfidence and the will to take thrilling footage.

“A life just isn’t price a like on social media,” the collective mentioned.

Theo Kindynis, a sociologist who has studied rooftopping, mentioned that to many city explorers, younger rooftoppers who have interaction in made-for-Instagram antics are often known as “dangle kiddies.”

“Remi’s Instagram is stuffed with the identical tropes — legs dangling in entrance of a cityscape, selfie stick on prime of a mast, silhouetted determine on a ledge — that had been already turning into cliché in 2016,” mentioned Mr. Kindynis, a professor at Goldsmiths, College of London, referring to Mr. Lucidi.

Some rooftoppers push again in opposition to that characterization. One is Baptiste Hermant, 23, a Frenchman who has posted “dangling” photographs however described himself in an interview as an explorer, not a rooftopper.

Mr. Hermant mentioned most of his city exploration occurs off digicam, and that he does it primarily for the pleasure of consuming beer along with his buddies on rooftops, after nighttime climbs, whereas watching the dawn.

“To be on a roof is simply my factor,” Mr. Hermant mentioned, including that he sees city exploration as a pure outgrowth of a childhood spent scaling rocks and bushes.

As for Mr. Lucidi, his buddies described him in interviews as an skilled climber who had a specific curiosity in Hong Kong’s dramatic skyline. A assertion posted to considered one of his Instagram pages this week known as him an “extraordinary photographer who captured the great thing about the world from breathtaking heights.”

One in every of his buddies, the Bulgarian rooftopper Yordan Boev, mentioned on Instagram that he deliberate to “conquer concern on a regular basis” as a method of honoring his pal’s legacy.

“Metal towers are very very similar to friendships,” he wrote in one other submit that confirmed the 2 males taking a selfie collectively in Bulgaria, with Mr. Lucidi holding the digicam. “We construct them sturdy and tall.”

Julien Kolly, a gallerist in Zurich who represents a French graffiti artist recognized for city exploration, mentioned that Mr. Lucidi reminded him of Alain Robert, a French stuntman who has scaled buildings all over the world for many years. He added that Mr. Lucidi’s social media posts had been merely a product of his period.

“Throughout his time, Alain Robert might solely depend on the press to cowl his ascents, whereas these days, Remi Enigma takes cost of staging and photographing his personal exploits to feed his Instagram account,” Mr. Kolly mentioned, referring to Mr. Lucidi’s Instagram nom de plume.

Mr. Lucidi’s demise was confirmed by phone on Thursday by the French navy and reported earlier by The South China Morning Publish and different information retailers. He was on trip in Hong Kong when he died, mentioned a French navy spokesperson who declined to be named, citing protocol.

The Hong Kong authorities haven’t confirmed the precise circumstances of the demise, saying solely that the cops discovered Mr. Lucidi’s physique after responding to a name from a safety guard.

Mr. Lucidi’s Instagram web page consists of 143 posts from excursions all over the world — London, Bangkok, Dubai, Mexico Metropolis and so forth. In a single submit, he defined that he traveled extensively “to get extra adrenaline to discover a higher option to get pleasure from life.”

A lot of his posts had been accompanied by hashtags like #urbanrogues and #scaryhighstuffs, and playful captions that made mild of the dangers he took to get his photographs.

“Stress-free on the Edge,” he wrote of mendacity on a roof ledge in Warsaw two years in the past.

Mr. Lucidi had made a number of journeys to Hong Kong. His final goal there was the Tregunter Towers, a three-building luxurious residence that sits on a quiet, winding street close to the mountainous backbone of town’s foremost island — excessive above the trams, buses, workplace buildings and pedestrians beneath. The South China Morning Publish reported {that a} witness had seen him knocking on the window of a 68th-floor penthouse.

On Friday morning, safety guards on the complicated had been standing behind a black gate shrouded by subtropical foliage with purple flowers. Home employees guided pedigree canine and child strollers up and down slender, twisting sidewalks.

A number of runners had been heading additional uphill, towards a mountaineering path that climbs by way of a forest to a mountain peak with panoramic views. Some paused to look again on the identical skyline that Mr. Lucidi had captured in his final submit.


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