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Design In Protest

Puerto Rican architecture students design counter-proposals to Hurricane Maria memorial
Architecture students in Puerto Rico have responded with a counter-proposal to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent request for architects to submit ideas for a Hurricane Maria memorial in New York. Francisco J. Rodríguez-Suarez, architect, professor, and former dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture (UPR-RP), posted a series of photomontages by his third-year students on Twitter (@paco-rsvp) last week—a competition project inspired by a class discussion during the first week of the semester. Some 16 pieces were made public on his feed, each depicting American and Puerto Rican symbols overlayed with contradictory images. One of the most scroll-stopping images features a group of construction workers raising an electric poll atop a pile of rubble. It mimics the famous photograph taken in 1945 of six Marines raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima. Rodríguez-Suarez told David Begnaud, CBS This Morning's lead national correspondent, that his students talked about the possibility of participating in Cuomo’s request for proposals, but ultimately decided to pursue making the anti-memorial imagery instead. They “unanimously felt the wounds had not healed enough and also questioned the appropriateness of the politics behind a memorial in New York,” Rodríguez-Saurez said in a quote on Begnaud’s Twitter. The journalist called the students' ideas "protest work" and an "academic critique" of Cuomo's RFP. In an email, Rodríguez-Suarez explained to AN that the project was part of a larger competition studio where emerging designers learn how to present strategy and develop critical thinking skills. They typically engage in four or five competitions per semester, he said, and the Hurricane Maria memorial was the first one they talked about doing. After debating the pros and cons, the students didn't submit work on an official submission but rather ended up experimenting with the photomontages as a set of counter-proposals. "Pedagogically, [the class] highlights the importance of architectural competitions as a means to provide society with better quality buildings and spaces," said Rodríguez-Suarez, "especially in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, where they are not the norm." It’s unclear yet whether Cuomo's memorial competition is gaining traction among professional architects or artists already, but given the support of the many New York-based Puerto Ricans who make up the 10-person commission to get it built, it seems the project will move forward despite criticism—even if it comes from the Puerto Rican government itself.  Regardless of the final chosen design, the UPR-RP students believe it's too soon for a memorial and that the American government doesn't understand their plight. "How does it occur to someone to make a memorial of something that's not finishing happening?" wrote Lourdes Sofia Jimenez-Rodriguez in an email to AN. "Much less in New York City, where I know there is a large population of Puerto Ricans who moved there after Maria and said they have done everything they can to help. But we're still living here every day." Jimenez-Rodriguez said the blue FEMA tarps that still cover homes around the country remind her of how far this disaster is from being over. It's a motif she focused on in her project. "For me, these represent the mismanagement of resources and aid after the hurricane," she said. "I wanted to make a photomontage of the capitol with broken roof and blue awnings because it is very easy to say that everything is fine when the one who is saying it did not really go through the situation."
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Second Time's the Charm

Rejected spotlights denied, trashed, and half-conceived architectural ideas
Rejection; we're all familiar with having our ideas turned down. Now, from August 23 through October 4 at the Banvard Gallery at The Ohio State University's Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture, curators Team B Architecture & Design have reached out to architects and designers for Rejected, a show that will give rejected work its due. That includes interiors, streetscapes from Denise Scott Brown, cabins, and mediations on what failure and rejected schemes mean in the grand scheme of academia, when traditionally, winning proposals are the ones that are preserved for future generations to study. What's lost when we let winners write the narrative? Rejected, in the same vein as Stanley Tigerman’s 1976 counter-show to 100 Years of Architecture in Chicago, seeks to widen the narrative about what has "worth" in the field. The text that follows was written by the Architect's Newspaper's Executive Editor Matt Shaw for the show, and examines those who voluntarily wrap themselves in the mantle of rejection and what that entails. Rejected can be found at 275 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, 43210. Graphic design for the show was done by Garrett Corcoran. I like the topic of "rejection." According to urbandictionary.com, a "reject" is "Someone who gets rejected from a group of friends or basiclly [sic] life. For example, someone might say, "Go away you fuckin [sic] reject, you have no friends, we all hate you." This seems like a great starting point for a show.[i]  [Redacted][ii] Rejection seems like an important topic in today's world. A quick search on 2knowmyself.com, generates a series of user-submitted questions, such as "Does rejection mean you are ugly".[iii] A deep reflection on love and self-identity, this seemingly juvenile query seems to be at the heart of your show. What does it mean to be rejected, and to be a reject? Within our hyper-capitalist neoliberal society, technology has played an increased role in how we see ourselves. According to South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han in his book Psychopolitics (Verso, 2018), smartphones and social media are commodified to the point where they have tapped into our psyches to exploit us. They accomplish this by creating a system where we exploit ourselves by constantly monitoring our own behavior, checking for likes and affirmation in the virtual sphere. It is like Foucault's panopticon, except even more abstract and sinister, as each of us is our own guard. Rather than a biopolitics—the organization and exploitation of bodies in an industrial world—Han calls this neoliberal technological exploitation psychopolitics, or the exploitation of the psyche. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”[iv] If neoliberalism wants us to seek affirmation, then seeking and celebrating rejection must be a healthy alternative. Team B is kind of like the incels of the architecture world. What is an incel? It is an involuntary celibate, a person who cannot have sex, despite wanting to. It is a state of constant and nihilistic rejection, which is referred to as “inceldom.” In dark corners of the internet, the incels have created an online subculture. At its worst, these incels become radicalized and turn to violence, including mass shootings. [Redacted][v]  In the 2014 Isla Vista shootings, gunman Eliot Rodger left a manifesto, which has been regarded as an incel hagiography, and referenced by other mass shooters since. In My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger by Rodger, he says:
Humanity… All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me...My life didn’t start out dark and twisted. I started out as a happy and blissful child, living my life to the fullest in a world I thought was good and pure.[vi]
Rather than a violent band of murderous incels, Team B is more aligned with the original incels, a benevolent and supportive sexless bunch. [Redacted][vii] Ironically, for Rodger, the incel community also did not start out as a twisted, sick group of internet creeps who threaten violence against people who are sexually active, which they call "Chads and Stacys."  [Redacted][viii] The incel group was founded in 1993 by a Canadian student named Alana. "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project" was a sincere community for "anybody of any gender who was lonely, had never had sex or who hadn't had a relationship in a long time." Alana eventually abandoned the project and handed it off to another user, but the group slowly devolved into the radicalized, misogynistic group we know today. Rejection at its best becomes a rallying cry for a group or an ideology. Denise Scott Brown, in the Rejected show, describes how the rejection of three Venturi Scott Brown & Associates' projects was a systematic disavowal of the postmodern architecture style.
We feel that renovation of Franklin Court and the planned renovation of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art exemplify a rejection not only of design but of a whole style. The renovations of these two landmark designs demonstrates a dismissal of the fun and playful spirit of postmodernism in favor of the minimalistic look of contemporary design.[ix]
Philip Johnson also used rejection as a positive as he needled the Architectural League of New York, which eventually led to the International Style show at MoMA. According to Robert A.M. Stern,
In 1931 he co-curated (with [Alfred E.] Barr and Julian Levy) the independent show Rejected Architects, which created a public furor and paved the way for the International Style exhibit. It featured work by young architects that didn’t meet the requirements of the conservative Architectural League. The show was staged in a rented storefront and Johnson hired a sandwich-board man to parade in front of the League’s offices with the message “See Really Modern Architecture Rejected by the League.” The League was outraged and tried to have the man arrested, but the attendant front-page publicity insured the show’s success and brought modern architecture to the public’s attention for the first time in the United States.[x]
In the Rejected show, there is no stylistic agenda, because architecture today has no singular, dominant ideology. Rather, the exhibition is a performative rejection of the culture of neoliberal psychopolitical acceptance. While some more conventional commercially successful architects actively rejected the invitation to be in the Rejected show, many of the participants proudly flaunt being rejected by the arbiters of institutional taste and the decision-makers of the capitalist development community. Who has the power to accept being a reject? For many of the participants in the show, the academic backdrop allows rejection to be taken as a positive, a wink-and-nod, that it is ok to fail. Outside of the capitalist modes of production, it is a much-needed respite and represents a strong bond between practitioners, if not stylistically, then in a way of operating within a certain lane of the current context. Instead of an architectural act of violence, what we have here is a group therapy session for the happy-go-lucky rejects who take pride in their status as architectural incels. [i] Urban Dictionary. “Reject”. Urbandictonary.com. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reject (accessed August 5, 2019). [ii] This sentence was rejected for being insulting to the curators. [iii] 2knowmyself. “Does rejection mean you are ugly”. 2knowmyself.com. <https://www.2knowmyself.com/does_rejection_mean_you_are_ugly (accessed August 5, 2019). [iv] Byung-Chul Han. Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power. Brooklyn, NY : Verso, 2017 [v] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [vi] Elliot Rodger. My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger. <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html> (accessed August 5, 2019). [vii] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [viii] ibid. [ix] Denise Scott Brown, email message to John Stoughton. July 1, 2019. [x] Robert A.M. Stern. “Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005).” The Architect’s Newspaper. <https://archpaper.com/2005/02/philip-courtelyou-johnson> (accessed August 5, 2019).  
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Wright Refresh

Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom synagogue to be activated with new exhibition
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1959 Beth Sholom synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, is poised for an artistic "activation," as artist David Hartt prepares to debut an exhibition blending sculpture, painting, film, tapestry, plants, and sound to bring a narrative of diaspora to life within the iconic structure.  Opening on September 11 and running through December 19, David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) uses Hartt’s various artistic mediums to comment on the shared connection between the stories of both the Jewish and black diasporas. Wright’s synagogue will remain active throughout the show, however, and a challenge for Hartt is to create artwork that will complement, rather than overwhelm, the space and its essential function.  The parenthesized portion of the exhibition title refers to the Manchineel tree, a highly poisonous tree native to the Mediterranean basin, but also the title of a 19th-century piano composition by Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Gottschalk came from a family of mixed German Jewish and Creole descent, and he became known for his melanges of Afro-Caribbean melodies with the classical European tradition. This discovery became a spark of inspiration for Hartt, inciting a trio of works, currently in production by the artist, with the Wright show coming as the first. “I was very interested in the idea of the black and Jewish diasporas as being intertwined,” Hartt told the Art Newspaper, “and I was really interested in the space itself simultaneously hosting two different cultural identities.” The infused nature of the narrative is informed both my Hartt’s professional artistic practice, as well as his professorship in the University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts department. The space will largely be filled with sound, as inspired by the Gottschalk discovery. Acting as an immersive element for viewers of the show, Hartt commissioned new recordings of Gottschalk’s work to accompany the artworks, as well as live performances that feature Jewish, Carribean, and African-American music.  The connections between these two seemingly disparate histories will continue to reveal themselves through Hartt’s other mediums as well. Large monitors will display video taken by the artist on journeys through New Orleans and Haiti, and planters will be filled with tropical plant species, with growth (and ambiance) aided by fuchsia-tinted grow lamps.  The curator of the exhibition, Cole Akers, said that the result is a “convivial atmosphere that audiences will be able to linger in and explore.” Akers, the curator and special projects manager for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, is no stranger to designing within big-name architect’s spaces. “To think about the ways that communities come together and sort of hold each other is a really powerful and poetic statement to make.”
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Above and Below

India’s Subterranean Stepwells rise at the Fowler Museum
India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman University of California, Los Angeles 308 Charles E. Young Drive Los Angeles In a show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman explores the hidden beauty of an elaborate building type originating in India: the stepwell. Built throughout the subcontinent’s warm, dry regions for the past 1,500 years, stepwells allowed communities to store water from monsoonal rains. These monumental stormwater management systems were built in both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles and served as sites of worship and gathering. Lautman has visited more than 200 stepwells over the past 30 years in an effort to document their importance and ensure their survival. Organized by Joanna Barrkman, senior curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific arts, the exhibition includes 48 photographs taken by Lautman with a point-and-shoot camera, and is arranged in clusters that focus on specific architectural details. Further images, along with GPS coordinates for each stepwell, are included in Lautman’s 2017 book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.
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Art Re-Start

Art on demolished Brooklyn Heights Library facade has found a new home
The art on the facade of the Brooklyn Heights Library has found a new home. Back in 2017, the old library building, a squat structure from the early 1960s that exuded WPA vibes, was demolished to make way for a luxury condo tower designed by New York's Marvel Architects. While the building itself wasn't much to look at, the art on its facade was most certainly was: six bas-reliefs by Italian sculptor Clemente Spampinato that playfully depicted industry and businesses; crafts; sciencesknowledge; literature; and arts. A BPL spokesperson confirmed over email that, per the original announcement, two of the six 10-by-11-foot panels will adorn a meeting room in the new library, which is slated to open in fall 2020. The other four panels will be the spolia in a to-be-planted garden outside the Walt Whitman Library, which is about a mile's walk from the branch in Brooklyn Heights at 280 Cadman Plaza West (or One Clinton, per the condo's branding). The new 26,600-square-foot Brooklyn Heights library space will sit within the Marvel Architects-designed building. The old library's demolition is part of a $300 million capital repair campaign that the Brooklyn Public Library estimates will generate $40 million in revenue for major repairs at other branches. There's certainly plenty of value locked into the building: At press time, a 900-square-foot one-bedroom was listed at $1.2 million, while the cheapest three-bedroom, a 2,000-square-foot 2.5 bath unit, is going for $3.1 million.
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Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
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Schvitz Stop

This year's Finnish Burning Man pavilion will let visitors steam in the desert
Helsinki-based architects at JKMM are designing this year's Burning Man pavilion. In true Finnish style, the installation will be a full-fledged sauna. Each year, the organizers of Burning Man, the festival-slash-anarcho-communist gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, ask designers to envision and execute singular works of art. For the festival's 2019 edition, organizers tapped JKMM and Sauna on Fire to design Steam of Life, a usable installation that's intended to energize participants with a good schvitz and introduce people to Finnish sauna culture. The circular Steam of Life will be built from timber, and its spiraling program is meant to gradually transition visitors from the harsh and arid conditions outside into the moist spa bliss within. According to JKMM, a curving passage will beckon the sauna-ready through a darkened area as a soft transition from the desert's brightness. The interior, meanwhile, is furnished with wooden benches and a stove. After the session, visitors will file into the shaded atrium at the center of the pavilion for a final cool down and relaxation. JKMM CEO Samppa Lappalainen selected architects Marcus Kujala, Hannu Rytky, and Päivi Aaltio from his firm to design the project, which will be built by Burners (Burning Man attendees) at the end of this month. JKMM's collaborators at Sauna on Fire are sponsoring a camp at Black Rock City—Burning Man attendees sort themselves out into camps—districts—organized around the burning effigy for which the gathering is named. Following this year's theme of "metamorphosis," Steam of Life's core values, according to its designers, are " [co-creation], volunteerism and inclusion of diverse participant backgrounds. Through self-organizing as an organization model, we aim to empower participants to learn new skills and foster a positive spirit for learning via decentralized decision-making via the build of a sauna installation to Black Rock City. Moreover, in the long run, this way of organizing could foster new types of civic engagement and even address social problems such as marginalization in society. Ultimately, we wish to distribute our learnt [sic] knowledge about the co-created content to a wider audience." But there will be no funny business along the road to a better society. A concept packet released by Sauna on Fire maintains it is not a "party camp" or "XXX," and notes that there should be no "wild sex orgy in the sauna." Keep it clean, y'all. The earnest design of Steam of Life will complement this year's Burning Man central temple. Designed by San Francisco architect Geordie Van Der Bosch, the temple references the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. For those who have tickets, Burning Man begins next Sunday, August 25 and runs through September 2.
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Roman to a T (Space)

Rome and the Teacher brings roofscapes to Rhinebeck
‘T’ Space 137 Round Lake Road Rhinebeck, NY Through August 24 This summer, ‘T’ Space, a gallery and performance venue established by Steven Holl, will present the work of Holl’s former professor and inspirator, the architect and academic Astra Zarina, in the exhibition Rome and the Teacher. Guest curated by Alessandro Orsini, the show is inspired by Zarina’s 1976 book on Roman roofscapes, I Tetti di Roma, and her contributions as a groundbreaking female figure in the profession. Photographs by the architect Balthazar Korab, who coauthored I Tetti di Roma, as well as theoretical writings, models, and historical maps relay the Latvian-born Zarina’s professional journey, including her experience as the American Academy in Rome’s first female architecture fellow and her lifelong project of restoring the “città che muore” (dying town) of Civita di Bagnoregio. Photographic prints will wrap the gallery space, and a video created by Columbia architecture students will align the exhibition material with newer concepts about design’s engagement with public life—a theme central to Zarina’s work, teaching, and legacy.
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Half-Empty Halfpipes

Amir Zaki explores broken space and empty skateparks in Empty Vessel
Photographer Amir Zaki is turning his lens towards "California concrete"—empty skateparks—for his upcoming exhibition at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. The uncannily clear images of the undulating bowls and ramps of the parks, while ubiquitous in Zaki’s Southern California, exist as alien landscapes outside the expectation of what you’d typically see outside your window.  Zaki unites both his bodies of work, photography and ceramics, in the upcoming exhibition Empty Vessel, which will run at the Doyle from September 19 through December 5. Using with a GigaPan attachment, a device that creates the same effect as a long exposure shot on film for his digital camera, Zaki took 50-to-60 photos of a scene or detail, and stitched the disparate takes together into one high definition image. The result is eerie, hyper-real prints, not dissimilar to the multiple exposures taken by architectural photographers to fine-tune the perfection of a space.  Hanging on the walls of the Doyle are these laser-sharp images of skateparks as sculpture or land art, accompanied by images of colorful broken ceramics. Destroyed by Zaki in his backyard, the visual juxtaposition of the different scales of "vessels" in the gallery is intended as a commentary on architecture—spaces and emptiness. The broken ceramics and the early morning, skaterless skateparks are brought out of the context of their accepted usefulness, purely just existing, as Zaki’s lens focuses our eye on the spaces they create. The idea of both the ceramics and the skateparks being vessels has to do with their sunken earth nature—while the ceramics are formed from the earth, fired, and then subsequently broken by the artist on his concrete back patio, when skateparks are devoid of skaters they become just concrete forms sunken into the earth. They are the reverse of high-rise contemporary urban architectures, scooped out forms of concrete instead of soaring roofed structures. However, while skateparks and their odd manmade topologies are not meant to be inhabited, they hold people and culture. While the cracked ceramics can no longer hold water or smaller objects, they still create dynamic, jagged spaces in Zaki’s eye. Shot from the bottom of the bowls and looking up at ramps and rails, the chosen perspective gives the parks an authority over the photographer as well as the viewer. It is as if they are inhabiting the space, taking time to understand and occupy a place that is usually seen as a fleeting blur atop a skateboard. Skateparks were not meant for human inhabitation or celebration, and neither was his ceramic earthenware. Zaki has sustained a unique interest in architectural subjects throughout his career, notably in his earlier collection of candy-colored lifeguard towers, titled Relics (2010). Using digital manipulation, nonhuman scale or horizonless perspectives, Zaki makes his built environments appear subtly irrational, made to be seen not experienced. He presents us with buildings that exist for themselves, not for us.  The juxtaposition of the ceramic shards can be read as a visual way to explore and question the origins of architectural form-making. The skatepark is like a shard of a building, no longer enclosed and warped at the edges. Yet it is still a functional piece, a place where the fringes meet. A broken jar may no longer hold water, a roofless building may not be an office. But architecture can be broken, shattered, and reclaimed. 
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Walkabout

Towering sculpture-scapes are a summer highlight at Art Omi
Art Omi 1405 County Route 22 Ghent, NY On view through 2019, select pieces through the end of 2020 Art Omi’s 2019 exhibition season has kicked off at the nonprofit’s 120-acre sculpture and architecture park, where visitors can, for free, wander among primitive huts, inflatable habitats, towering machinery, high-tech textile pavilions, and more. Admission to Art Omi’s campus is free, and this year, the arts center has assembled a veritable who’s who of The Architect’s Newspaper favorites. Atelier Van Lieshout’s 40-foot-tall industrial Blast Furnace, last seen at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, has migrated upstate and now stands in stark contrast to OMG!’s Primitive Hut, a wooden structure with trees growing through its lattice. Other pavilions to watch out for include LevenBetts’s Zoid, an experiment in geometry and view framing that comprises a shelter and gathering space made from repeating rectangles, and Matthew Geller’s Babble, Pummel, and Pride II, a small pavilion whose tilted roof is continually hit by water from an adjacent pump, providing guests a respite from calmer weather. All told, over 60 works of sculpture and architecture can be found at the park.
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Peak Biennial?

The global design circuit comes to a head this fall with over a dozen events
“syzygy noun syz·y·gy | \ ˈsi-zə-jē: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” —Merriam-Webster It seems like somehow all the world’s design triennials and biennials have lined up to happen in the fall of 2019. September is especially packed with events for the global design cognoscenti, but the deluge will continue through the new year. Here is a breakdown of over 20 design-related celebrations from Chicago to Seoul to Uruguay. Exhibit Columbus August 24 to December 1 Columbus, IN Inspired by the 1986 Good Design in the Community: Columbus, Indiana National Building Museum exhibition, this year’s edition of Exhibit Columbus will rethink what good design means today. Eighteen projects will activate downtown Columbus, including installations from the 2018–19 Miller Prize recipients, SO – IL, MASS Design Group, and Frida Escobedo Studio, among others. Detroit Month of Design September 2019 Detroit The Detroit Design Festival is extending from a week to an entire month with programming from Design Core, the steward of Detroit’s 2018 UNESCO City of Design program. Emerging local studios, educational institutions, and major companies will showcase projects and events throughout the city as well as installations from the festival’s three main competitions. Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism September 7 to November 10, 2019 Seoul, South Korea Sponsored by the Seoul city government, this year’s biennial, themed “Collective City,” invites a global discussion on how architecture practices can help change the political paradigms of development and influence policy ideas. Along with directors Francisco Sanin and Lim Jaeyong, curator Beth Hughes will organize the main exhibition, which will showcase new models of collaboration, governing, and research. Estonia: Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) September 11 to November 30, 2019 Tallinn, Estonia Focusing on the theme “Beauty Matters” TAB will look at new interests in aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is developing in architectural discourse and across cultures. Curated by Dr. Yael Resiner, the fifth edition of the biennial will feature nine exhibitors including Sou Fujimoto, Elena Manferdini, and Space Popular. Istanbul Biennial September 14 to November 10, 2019 Istanbul, Turkey Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the 15th edition of this citywide biennial will feature work from over 60 artists relating to the concept of the Anthropocene. Curated by French art scholar Nicolas Bourriaud, the exhibition will be held across three venues: the 600-year-old Istanbul Shipyard, the Pera Museum, and Buyukada Island. Participants will showcase pieces that detail the impact of human waste on other species and the environment. Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020 Chicago Now in its third cycle, CAB will be curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares under the theme “...and other such stories.” Through engaging the narratives of different cultures and their historical memories, the biennial will look at the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. Oslo Architecture Triennale (OAT) September 26 to November 24, 2019 Oslo, Norway The seventh edition of the Nordic region’s biggest architecture festival will call attention to how architecture might respond to the current climate emergency and to social division in cities around the world. Titled “Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth,” this year’s OAT is curated by Maria Smith, Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, and Cecilie Sachs Olsen, and will center on four concepts, or “institutions of growth”: the library, the theater, the playground, and the academy. Chile: Feria Libre de Arquitectura October 3 to 27, 2019 Santiago, Chile Having started in 1977, the Free Architecture Fair in Chile is one of the oldest biennials in the world, and this year, it will largely be held in Santiago. With a focus on “the common and the ordinary,” participants will try to answer questions regarding the role of architectural production for people who don’t live on the extreme edges of society. Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa October 3 to December 2, 2019 Lisbon, Portugal The fifth edition of the Lisbon Triennial will focus on the theme “The Poetics of Reason” and will be broken up into five exhibitions curated by various experts. Claiming that architecture “rests on reason,” the showcase will break down the ways in which architecture is shareable and can be understood by anyone. Lagos Biennial October 26 to November 30, 2019 Lagos Island Organized by the Àkéte Art Foundation, the second Lagos Biennial will ask: “How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?” Curated by Antawan I. Byrd and Tosin Oshinowo, the event will challenge artists, designers, and the public to think about how the city of Lagos, with its 21 million residents, can continue to expand its built environment while responding to climate change, socioeconomic inequality, and international exchanges. Sharjah Architecture Triennial November 9, 2019, to February 8, 2020 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Adrian Lahoud, dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, will curate the inaugural run of this triennial around the theme of the “Rights of Future Generations.” With major exhibitions held at the Al-Qasimiyah School and the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, participants will rethink the role of architecture and how it addresses climate change across the Global South. Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) December 2019 to March 2020 Shenzhen, China The eighth edition of the UABB is co-hosted by Shenzhen and Hong Kong and is the only biennial dedicated to urban issues. This year’s theme, “Urban Interactions,” will be broken down into two sections, “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City,” and will be chiefly curated by Carlo Ratti, Meng Jianmin, and Fabio Cavalluci. The main exhibition will be held at the Futian Railway Station and will explore how technological advances can shape urban spaces. Other Notable Events: Experimental Architecture Biennale June 14 to September 1, 2019 Prague, Czech Republic Vienna Biennale for Change June to October 2019 Vienna, Austria Ottawa Architecture Week September 30 to October 6, 2019 Ottawa, Canada London Design Festival September 14 to 22, 2019 London Brazil: XII Bienal Internacional de Arquitecta de São Paulo September 19 to December 19, 2019 São Paulo, Brazil Spain: Bienal de Arquitectura Latinoamericana September 24 to 27, 2019 Pamplona, Spain International Biennale of Architecture Kraków October 8 and 9, 2019 Kraków, Poland Biennale d’ Architecture d’ Orléans #2 – Years of Solitude October 11, 2019, to January 19, 2020 Orléans, France Argentina: XVII Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura de Buenos Aires October 15 to 26, 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina Dutch Design Week          October 19 to 27, 2019 Eindhoven, the Netherlands Paraguay: XI Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo October 2019 Asunción, Paraguay
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Almost IRL

Apple and New Museum team up for choreographed urban AR art tours
New York's New Museum, which has already launched a fair share of tech-forward initiatives like net-art preservation and theorization platform Rhizome and NEW INC, has teamed up with Apple over the past year-and-a-half to create a new augmented reality (AR) program called [AR]T. New Museum director Lisa Phillips and artistic director Massimiliano Gioni selected artists Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller, and Pipilotti Rist to create new installations that display the artistic potential of AR and help advance the museum’s own mixed-reality strategy. Each of the artists will create interactive AR artworks that can be viewed via iPhones with the [AR]T app on “choreographed” street tours that will begin in a limited number of Apple stores across six cities. Users will be able to capture the mixed reality installations in photos and video through their phones. Additionally, Nick Cave has created an AR installation titled Amass that can be viewed in any Apple store, and the company has worked with artist and educator Sarah Rothberg to help develop programs to initiate beginners into developing their own AR experiences. This announcement comes on the heels of much industry AR and VR speculation regarding Apple, in part encouraged by recent hires from the gaming industry, like that of Xbox co-creator Nat Brown, previously a VR engineer at Valve. While some artists, institutions, and architects have embraced AR and VR, many remain skeptical of the technology, and not just on artistic grounds. Writing in the Observer, journalist Helen Holmes wonders if “Apple wants the public to engage with their augmented reality lab because they want to learn as much about their consumers as possible, including and especially how we express ourselves creatively when given new tools.” The [AR]T app will drop on August 10th in the following cities: New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo