Soft Cover, English, Glue Binding, 44 Pages, 2018, Robert Jelinek/Der Konterfei
To him, a city is like a mountain range, but with one essential difference: there are always new skyscrapers under construction. Known as “the French Spider-Man”, Alain Robert is famous for his free solo climbing, scaling skyscrapers using no equipment except for a small bag of chalk and a pair of climbing shoes.
Robert, who has suffered from epileptic vertigo since his first climbing accident in 1982, is considered to be one of the world's best urban climbers. In the last 25 years he has scaled over 150 of the tallest buildings in the world. Even if the mostly illegal and unsecured free climbing of Alain Robert is an extreme example, his biography shows us that his will and drive are closely connected to the flow effect. This effect naturally demands repetition and intensification. To the actor as thrill-seeker or skill-seeker, this can be permanently formative, and can sometimes cause unease or restlessness. Whether as a cocky risk-taker or responsible-minded daredevil, Robert is still constantly driven to achieving the flow effect and to surpassing it. Robert resembles an unregenerate boy, a dropout who follows only his own rules, but at the same time, he is similar to a top athlete who serves as a role model. Every building climb is a new overcoming, a crossing to himself. Like Friedrich Nietzsche's tightrope walker in Zarathustra, Robert seeks and draws the crowd around himself – he wants to inspire them, to motivate them. Even if Robert is often characterized as an outlaw by the media, his obsessive passion reveals a great deal to us about an already mentally-crippled society that forfeits much of its intuition, its instincts, its courage, and its will on a daily basis, and continues to stagnate. Alain Robert is drawn to the heights by his struggle against nihilism, to free his thinking from resentments, and to surpass himself.