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Architectural Atrocity Tourism

The Cursed Architecture Twitter feed showcases the best of the worst
What drives the internet’s (perhaps morbid) obsession with bad design? Strange angles, melting paint, oddly-placed and vaguely threatening toilets, signage that hinders rather than helps, stairs to nowhere, and misplaced windows have all caused digital rubbernecking. Whether it’s critiquing the bric-a-brac nature of suburban homes assembled by the nouveau-riche in McMansion Hell, or posting abject failures in the 1.5-million-member-strong r/CrappyDesign subreddit, the demand for “bad design” to critique seems bottomless. The worst offenders are frequently aggregated on Instagram, meme-y Facebook pages, Twitter, and listicles, repackaged and reshared failures of design for new audiences. Enter the Cursed Architecture Twitter account, which has been posting baffling, incomplete, and/or possibly haunted buildings since September of last year. When asked about where they compile their material from and why they think it has such an enduring appeal, the owner of Cursed Architecture had this to say: "I started collecting the images a couple of years ago because I thought they were funny, and later on made the account for my own entertainment. I never expected it to be so popular—or popular at all. I’m a little stunned by it, honestly. The images come from all over the Internet: house listings, DIY forums, and so on. Some are submitted to me. "We live in a very planned, sanitary, squared-off world. I think that’s why the failures are so funny, and why they resonate. So much current architecture is totally impersonal, but a bizarre mistake is the opposite. It invites the question of who did it, and why, and who thought three urinals crowded into a corner or a staircase to nowhere was a good idea. There’s something very human about that." Perhaps the collective fascination with such failures stems from the internet’s ability to give would-be critics a seat at the table, allowing anyone to weigh in. It’s also possible that when faced with overwhelmingly terrible design that fails at a basic level, everyone can put aside their quibbles and unite to make fun of it, together.
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Italian Impressions

Four standout installations from Milan Design Week 2019
A series of unusual and experimental architectural installations at Milan Design Week 2019 and Salone del Mobile allows visitors the chance to get inside the minds of radical architects, designers, and artists from around the world. These pieces, made in collaboration with prominent Italian brands and historic venues, showcase not only great work by emerging design professionals and veteran acts, but also give attention to pressing themes facing humanity today, such as climate change and life in the ever-evolving digital age. Some of the projects simply bring beauty to the forefront, reminding visitors to look for inspiration in eclectic design. Check out some of AN's favorite installations from the massive design event on AN Interior  
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Moving Parts

Performa 19 probes the Bauhaus's legacies in performance and architecture
For its eighth iteration, the Performa Biennial (Performa 19) will be embodying the radical spirit of the Bauhaus, which celebrates its centennial this year, with performances across New York City. Investigating the confluence of artistic, technological, and political events that birthed the interdisciplinary school in its own day, Performa 19 reframes the 1923 exhibition Art and Technology; The New Unity to consider “what is the art school of the 21st century?” Taking place over the course of three and a half weeks in November, the biennial will include commissions from global artists including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ed Atkins, Nairy Baghramian, Tarik Kiswanson, Paul Pfeiffer, and Samson Young. There will also be partnerships with numerous other institutions in the collaborative, multidisciplinary spirit of the Bauhaus. “One of Performa’s important roles is to provide critical historical background and context for today’s performances by visual artists,” explained RoseLee Goldberg, founding director and chief curator of Performa. And history, power, and architecture will be taken up by many of the artists. Baghramian, for example, will use dance and theater to investigate the role of the body and gender in architecture and domestic space, while Arunanondchai will create a musical that draws from the Thai tradition of Ghost Cinemas, outdoor movie screenings that began after the Vietnam War as a way for the living and dead to commune among one another. In addition to these new commissions, legendary dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer and dance scholar Emily Coates will reconstruct Rainer’s 1965 piece Parts of Some Sextets from materials held at the Getty archives. While we often think of the Bauhaus as a school of architecture and design, Goldberg pointed out that the architecture department was itself slow to launch, yet “a theater department was there at the beginning. [It] took the form of a centralized workshop for exploring cross-disciplinary projects; the drawing department used it to examine movements of the body in space, visual artists and photographers to explore lighting design, and performers and designers to construe fabulous parties, such as the Metal Party.” Drawing upon the department and school's inventive legacy, as well as engaging publications like The Bauhaus Stage, Performa 19 will exhibit how theater at the Bauhaus, and performance more broadly, bridge disciplines and connect bodies and spaces through time. Performa 19 will run from November 1 to November 24, 2019, in New York City.
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Arch Zoo

KooZA/rch and (ab)Normal put inspiration on a pedestal at Salone del Mobile
Online architecture representation platform KooZA/rch and multidisciplinary collective (ab)Normal put together a colorful installation at the 2019 Salone del Mobile in Milan. Titled MICRO TOOLS: THE INVISIBLE SYNAPSE, the micro-exhibition asked a bunch of designers to display a compact set of objects or memory "tools" that inspired them. Read the full article with all the images on aninteriormag.com.
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NSFW

The Cruising Pavilion, New York maps queer pasts and futures
On the blacked-out front door of Ludlow 38, the Goethe Institute’s downtown outpost, is a plaque. In simple, sans serif, white letters it says: "THIS GALLERY CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGERY. PARENT/ADULT DISCRETION IS ADVISED." Open the door and even before you cross the threshold you’ll hear moaning. Or at least I did. I suppose timing matters—not every moment of what turns out to be Shu Lea Cheang’s 2001 video I.K.U. - I robosex has moaning. Inside, with the windows blacked out and the overhead lamps turned off, purple LED strips hidden behind walls provide the only light in the gallery, and it’s hard to make things out clearly. It hardly feels like an art exhibition but there is still a gallery attendant at the front desk, which reminds you that you do have to behave. This is Cruising Pavilion, New York, the second of three iterations of the architectural exploration of gay sex and cruising originally presented to coincide with the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and created and curated by Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault, and Charles Teyssou, and produced along with the Ludlow 38 curator, Franziska Sophie Wildförster. The third, and perhaps final, Cruising Pavilion will go up in Stockholm this fall. A friend and I often remark that there are no real gay bars on the east side below Delancey—or even below Houston, really—where we actually live and spend most of our time. The area is not and has never really been known as an epicenter of gay culture, the way the Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and, as unbelievable as it may be now, Times Square have been. As far as I know, there are no regularly operating backrooms, like those you can still find in the East Village, though I’m sure there are some private spaces where people have their share of fun. Even still, those rooms-behind-the-curtain have diminished—along with the theaters, the bathhouses, and certainly the piers—all things well before my time, my time being mostly post-Grindr and long after the first rounds of the mass sanitation of New York City. The powerwashing of our streets with money and moralism continues, as if there were anything less pornographic than New York’s extravagantly boring displays of wealth. There are few things more obscene and less stimulating than the recently opened Hudson Yards. Financial hedonism rarely breeds originality, and if cash is what gets you off, it’s probably because you’re bad in bed. At the opening, the exhibition did remind me a bit of moving about backrooms—bodies bouncing like so many pinballs, everything homogenizing into a swarm—but here I was less drunk and more clothed, and, of course, there was the fear, my fear, of damaging the art (some were less cautious—outside the show someone told me a bit of plexiglass had fallen victim to an errant elbow). Inside, I saw friends, former lovers, and former one night stands. Somebody told me there were poppers in the fog machine. I’m not sure if that’s true, nor if that’s safe, but either way the impression that there could’ve been some speaks to a sense of sensuality, danger, and seediness rarely seen in architecture exhibition. Like museums and galleries, sex and chemicals promise a trip to somewhere else. Perhaps the fog should remind us of the steam of the Continental Baths, long gone, which the curators cite in their release. The Cruising Pavilion highlights the historical entanglements of what the curators call "conflictual architectures." It mines the ineluctably intertwined histories of policing, neoliberalization, right-wing moralism, homonormalization, gentrification, the AIDS crisis, and so on, to map the real past and the gaps of the present, acting as a cartography of possibilities for the queer (mis)use of space. The exhibition is a blueprint towards performances of sexual dissidence, exposing the erotic potentials lurking in hidden dark corners, or maybe even out in the open, should you only try to catch someone—or be caught—in the act. A radical reframing of the notion of "architecture," Cruising Pavilion and the artists and architects it features interrogate sex and sexuality as a way of re- and dis-figuring buildings and cities the world over. Cruising, beyond being a sexual practice, is a spatial one—a phenomenological perversion that uses vision and touch to establish a set of relationships not just between individuals, but between individuals and the spaces they move through. Queer space is produced by its users as much if not more so than by its owners and architects. Sexuality is not just decoration, though it is that too, but, as Cruising Pavilion proposes, sex is a constitutive act of architecture. Museums and galleries make themselves by making rules. They regulate where bodies go, how close and how far from objects you can get, what you can and can’t touch (in general, you can’t touch much of anything). At the Cruising Pavilion it still probably isn’t advisable to touch (it is, after all, an art show) and I doubt getting it on is officially condoned. But for those compelled by the at-once exhibitionist and elusive acts of public sex or furtive hookups, isn’t breaking the rules part of the fun? But the fog and the psychedelic lush of lights evoke another space: The club. Of course, the club, too, can be sanitized and the curators point out the “de-sexualization of disco and house music and their mutations into the official anthem of ‘happy globalization.’” The neoliberal city, like Epcot, sounds better with a soundtrack. The point of the club was and is being together, increasingly important in the AirPod era. It’s hard not to think of the recent closing of the Dreamhouse, itself a veritable ad hoc architectural carnival, home to artist studios and to Spectrum, the favorite after-hours haunt of New York City’s artists, designers, DJs—weirdos and queerdos who came together to dance and talk and screw well past sunrise. One could presumably go to the gallery on drugs, but you’d still have to watch how you acted, lest you be kicked out. Perhaps the biggest queering of space is the simultaneous sensory overload and denial, the ocular S&M that plays out, at once enticing you and denying you. You can’t touch and you can’t see, but boy do you want to. This exhibition’s a tease, which is to say, it—like all art—is about desire and discipline. Cruising Pavilion Ludlow 38 New York, New York Through April 7
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Seas are a-risin’

Brooks+Scarpa explore “Salty Urbanism” in latest exhibition at USC
New research by Los Angeles-based architects Brooks+Scarpa is currently on view at the Verle Annis Gallery at the University of Southern California School of Architecture in L.A. The exhibition, Salty Urbanism, presents a case study approach for how two communities—the North Beach Village neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Venice in Los Angeles—can plan and respond to the increasingly present dangers of sea level rise and global climate change. According to the architects, nearly 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, a fact that is increasingly relevant as hurricanes, tidal floods, drought, and other climate change-related events associated with changing sea levels begin to increase in frequency. For this reason, Brooks+Scarpa argue, the time is right for designers to begin to put into practice “best management approaches” that had previously been considered largely on a theoretical basis. The exhibition collects speculative proposals as well as pedagogical perspectives for how architects might work through interdisciplinary means as part of a wider effort to stem the negative impacts of sea level rise on the built environment. They address the expected loss of water storage capacity for urban soils, as well as propose interventions to ease the future burden of legacy stormwater infrastructure systems. The exhibition highlights low-impact development, green infrastructure, and other alternative concepts as possible approaches for mitigating the damaging effects of climate instability in urban areas through a series of speculative proposals that include renderings, diagrams, and other visuals.

The exhibition is on view through Friday, April 19, 2019, and will be accompanied by a lecture given by Angela Brooks and Larry Scarpa at USC on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 6 pm. For more information, see the USC website.

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Tilted Stage

Show at New York's Abrons Arts Center combines performance and construction
A live “performance/construction site,” called TILT, at New York City's Abrons Arts Center’s Experimental Theater combines dance and architecture in the close of a trilogy from Racoco Productions. The performance’s action is triggered by the first of three balls rolling down a chute in a primitive Rube Goldberg–like pinball machine, hitting metal chimes then bouncing down a “staircase.” The set is filled with sticks and pieces of wood at first tumbling out of the second-floor door of a shed, which houses a tap dancer in a skirt. The inventive costumes are largely made of wood panel overlays and flexible triangles that are either puppets mimicking the dance or sheaths that articulate movement. Choreography by Rachel Cohen, who stars along with tap dancer Heather Cornell, with live music by Lynn Wright, shows “fantastic excavations of everyday things…quixotic choreography, absurdist visuals, and raw materials”—and even a windmill constructed by four Noh-like dancers in a nod to Don Quixote. In the lobby are elements from the production—a build your own “throne,” pinball machine, ropes, chairs, costumes, Jacob’s Ladders, building blocks—and from the first two parts of the show’s trilogy, I would and Construct, which used the same raw materials as well as dance movements. For TILT, the final chapter, designer-carpenter Bill Kennedy was brought in to re-envision and expand the set pieces. The staccato and swirling movements perfectly mesh with the construction-site aesthetic of TILT.
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Magical Thinking

Follow This Line blends Iranian sculpture and architecture at the Met Breuer
Sixty years of art from the Iranian-born artist Siah Armajani are now on display at the Met Breuer, highlighting nearly 100 pieces of quietly revolutionary collage and architectural models. Exile, the refugee crisis, and the role of public art are all addressed overtly, but not directly, in Follow This Line. The show charts Armajani’s trajectory as an artist throughout the 1960s and ’70s and his use of magic spells, propaganda speeches, public art installations, computer-generated graphics, and other ephemera to create a “language of exile.” Of particular note are the models from the 1974-75 series Dictionary for Building, of which only 150 pieces remain from what was originally thousands of compartmentalized building details that sought to create a visual vocabulary of architecture through strange, nonsensical combinations of features. Follow This Line is a phrase that constantly reappears in Armajani's work and evokes the public nature and "claiming" of urban space—it refers to the way children walking home from school would drag their pencils across walls on the way. Running concurrently with Follow This Line is an installation of Bridge Over Tree in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the Empire Fulton Ferry lawn, the first staging of that piece since 1970. That example of built infrastructure deferring to nature will remain on display and open to the public until September 29, 2019.
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Russian Pods

Spaceships land in Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
At the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, the galleries are reconfigured to accommodate every new show, and for the latest show a series of "pods" have been installed in the museum. The rooms, which are meant to resemble spaceships, featured walls that curve as they slide seamlessly into the floor. The special format is for a show on Russian contemporary artist Pavel Pepperstein, The Human as a Frame for the Landscape. Pepperstein is known for his psychedelic two-dimensional works. The show will be up until June 2.
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The Village

Cold War dystopia comes back in New York gallery show
The Village, an upcoming show at New York's Carriage Trade gallery, will revisit Cold War–dystopia through the art of several contemporary artists. According to a statement from the gallery, the show will look at "contemporary modes of surveillance and 'civic management' courtesy of both private and state-sponsored actors" through the lens of the 1960s sci-fi television show The Prisoner. In that show, a British man was mysteriously placed in an uncanny town where he was held captive and monitored by relentless and inscrutable state surveillance. The gallery show will draw comparisons between the fantasies of fifty years ago and the realities of today. The artists participating in the show include: Gretchen Bender, David Deutsch, Harun Farocki, Andrew Hammerand, Jenny Holzer, Craig Kalpakjian, Margia Kramer, Jorge Rigamonti, and Julia Scher. The Village April 4—May 12, 2019 Carriage Trade 277 Grand St, 2nd Fl. New York, NY 10002
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Puttin' on a Show

Winka Dubbeldam's work goes on view at Berlin's Aedes Architecture Forum
An exhibition of the work of Archi-Tectonics, the firm founded by Dutch-American architect Winka Dubbeldam, is now on view at the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. The show, titled Flat Lands & Massive Things - From NL to NYC & beyond, focuses on six projects completed by Dubbeldam and her partner Justin Korhammer. The projects show the firm's core work in New York and the Netherlands along with other projects in China. The show draws comparisons between the urban environments of New York and the Netherlands, namely the flatness of both areas and their relationships with intricate coastlines. In a statement, Dubbeldam said: "As architects, we often undervalue the inventiveness of industrial or car design…But at Archi-Tectonics we believe that we can and should be concerned with high-level design precision and the integration of design and technology.” The show will be up through April 25.
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Fieldworks

Office Kovacs, Kyle May, and MILLIØNS to lead desert design-build festival in California
In May 2019, Southern California’s “community in residence” design-build festival, Space Saloon, is returning to the desert highlands for its second incarnation. Titled Fieldworks, the elbow grease-fueled festival will take its inspiration from “cumulative methods of scientific field research—the approaches, techniques, and processes used to collect raw data outside of a laboratory setting” by staging a series of desert constructions that focus on imbuing quantified data with cultural meaning. The eight-day workshop is open to anyone age 18 or older and will cost between $1350 and $1500 to attend; the program price includes room and board, three meals a day, and all of the necessary construction materials. As with the previous iteration of the festival, organizers hope to draw an interdisciplinary group of students that will complement the diverse set of practitioners leading the project. Project leaders for this year include architects Andrew Kovacs (Office Kovacs), Zeina Koreitem and John May (MILLIØNS), Kyle May (KMA), as well as workshop leaders Alex Braidwood (Listening Instruments), Noémie Despland-Lichtert and Brendan Sullivan Shea (Roundhouse Platform), Lena Pozdnyakova and Eldar Tagi (the2vvo), among others. According to a press release, program participants will work to undermine the “constructs and apparatuses through which we perceive a place,” investigations that could include questioning how knowledge is produced, manipulating one’s perception of the desert landscape, and creating “new methods for presenting subjective realities.” The workshop joins an ever-increasing number of arts- and architecture-related events taking place across the desert regions surrounding Los Angeles, including the Desert X art biennial, the High Desert Test Sites program, and the Coachella Arts and Music festival. For a collection of last year’s projects, see the Space Saloon website. Applications for the program will be accepted through April with the workshops taking place in California’s Morongo Valley between May 25 and June 1, 2019.