Posts tagged with "art":

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The Berlin Biennale explored how architecture defines us today

The 9th Berlin Biennale, The Present in Drag, is “more rooted in a time than a place,” explained curator Lauren Boyle of the New York–based collective DIS. For this citywide art exhibition, the DIS team wanted to expose the contradictions and sheer spectacle of today’s hyper-networked, content-saturated culture. The exhibition breaks from many past Berlin Biennales, as it does not, on the surface, take an immediate political stance. Instead, it acts as a platform for artists to perform the present, in a sense, caricaturing and parodying it in order to tease out the contradictions and confusing realities of contemporary culture. DIS assembled a list of young artists and collectives, including 69, Cécile B. Evans, Simon Denny, Hito Steyerl, and more to show across five venues in Berlin.

Many of the works confront the Internet and the effect that it has on our lives and the way we create our identities. Three of the works explicitly deal with architecture, and how it is being affected by changes in technology and new social cues in an evolving world.

The first and most outwardly architectural is “#3” by architect Shawn Maximo. In collaboration with German kitchen- and bath-fixture manufacturer Dornbracht—famous for its ongoing forward-thinking collaborations with artists since 1996—Maximo created a room based on the idea of a “comfort station” where you can get all the comforts of home, such as going to the bathroom, getting a drink, or taking a nap…but in the Kunste-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art. In the installation, a squat toilet, a kitchen sink, a large-screen monitor with digital videos and illustrations, and light boxes illuminated with images of nature create a place where the most intimate, private ritual collides with a social gathering space—a place for both comfort and information. The title, “#3” suggests a new way of thinking about the bathroom as a place where maybe you can use the toilet while your friend washes dishes and watches a movie. Maximo wanted to tackle some of the taboos and boundaries that we hang on to despite their lack of usefulness today. “The bathroom is a place where there is a lot of potential to make more of an impact in terms of design and aesthetic,” he explained.

Another installation at the Kunste-Werke is “ARCHITECTURE,” a long, thickened wall that incorporates six nooks filled with pillows, by London-based åyr. These cozy spaces are outfitted with outlets for phone charging and are meant to challenge our assumptions of “openness” and “crossing boundaries” common to both the sharing economy and corporate architectural discourse. The work also makes reference to Rem Koolhaas’s Berlin Wall studies and Testo Junkie by Paul B. Preciado, which conflates spaces of protection and incarceration.

Completing the trifecta of architectural, boundary-challenging works is a deconstructed showroom apartment in the Akademie der Kunste by Christopher Kulendran Thomas titled “New Eelam.” In the apartment, a video explains the concept of a new app that would utilize the sharing economy to introduce users to a network of luxury communal housing units. The app—named after the failed neo-Marxist movement in Eelam, Sri Lanka—breaks out of traditional borders, operating outside the traditional power networks of late capitalist, neo-colonial influence. By establishing a collectively owned network of housing inside the existing system, Kulendran Thomas hopes to create a new way of living through the “luxury of communalism rather than private property.”

Combined, the three artworks attempt to make sense of the architectural implications of the political and technological forces that are swirling around us, but are hard to pin down in an architectural context. Contemporary art succeeds where architecture struggles in this exploration, perhaps because art can more adeptly capture these subtle forces not necessarily embedded in actual buildings.

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New Guggenheim exhibit delves into place, politics, history, and more, with East Asian artists

Now on display at the Guggenheim is Tales of Our Time, an exhibition that opens up a discourse on the concepts of geography and nation-state. The exhibition's artists are primarily East Asian (Chia-En Jao, Kan Xuan, Sun Xun, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Tsang Kin-Wah, Yangjiang Group, and Zhou Tao) and their work has a site-specific focus that ranges from their homeland to remote border areas and untouched islands. Within this spectrum, notions such as territory, boundaries, and utopia crop up and are used to question the traditional understanding of place.

Tales of Our Time draws on renowned Chinese author Lu Xun's Gushi xin bian (Old Tales Retold, 1936). In this story, ancient Chinese legends critique society, reimagine history, and shed light on contemporary issues. The line between reality and fiction is blurred by artists in the tale, thus causing disruption, drawing up new borders, demolishing old ones, and dividing communities, regions, nations, and continents in the process.

The artworks from the aforementioned artists are all new commissions. However, they don't focus solely on China and its art scene. Social and political tensions found across the globe manifest in the works through themes such as individual and collective memory, migration and urbanization, cultural inclusion and exclusion, and technological development. "The tales told in this exhibition consider our seemingly more connected, globalized world as one that is still filled with fractured land, fragmented history, and upended traditions, but, at the same time, they also propose ways to imagine culture differently," says the museum.

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Iván Navarro’s surreal neon and LED artworks now on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Iván Navarro’s Mute Parade exhibition opened this week at New York's Paul Kasmin Gallery. The show features two large works that employ light, sound, and language to engage ideas of migration, propaganda, and power. The first gallery features Navarro’s Impenetrable Rooma labyrinth of six 6-by-6-foot structures outfitted with mirrors and undulating, green neon lights whose interior spaces seem to recede into infinity. The adjacent gallery features two drums, each of them 6 feet in diameter, that incorporate neon LEDs, mirrors, as well a pyramid of six more drums on the rear wall. The interior of each artwork is outfitted with messages that play on the intersection of political and instrumental themes.  Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. He is known internationally for the politically charged messages of his sculptures and represented Chile at the 53rd Venice Biennale. The exhibition, running through late December, will be his second solo show at Paul Kasmin Gallery.  
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Regen Projects sculpture exhibition fuses cars, mixed media, and music

Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’s Autoconcanción, a collection of new sculptures, is on display at Regen Projects in Los Angeles. The collection of eight autobiographical, mixed-media installations uses the backseats from cars Cruzvillegas has used throughout his life and augments them with various apparatuses—lifting some on spindly stilts and shading others behind iridescent sheets of backlit, colored plastic. To these objects, the artist attaches radios that play reports from local stations. Each piece also contains some sort of native plant specimen perched somewhere, such as a palm tree still in its nursery bucket or a collection of oak saplings like those typically seen in Southern California freeway medians. The work, meant to be a reflection on Cruzvillegas’s life through Southern California car culture, is reflected via the Mexico City–based artist’s title for the exhibition, which translates to “car with song.”

Autoconcanción Regen Projects 6750 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles Through October 22

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James Turrell’s “Meeting” re-opens at MoMA PS1

After a three-year restoration and renovation, James Turrell’s Meeting re-opened at MoMA PS1 just last Saturday, October 8. The oculus, carved out of the ceiling, was originally commissioned in 1976, completed in 1980, and modified through 1986, ultimately becoming a prototype for a series of what the artist calls ‘Skyscapes,’ which invite viewers to gaze up at an unobstructed view of the sky. The re-opening at MoMA PS1 will feature a modulated lighting program at sunset, utilizing LED lights that gradually brighten and dim to contrast the sky in transition. The LED fixtures, common in Turrell’s more recent works, are controlled by a computer program that automatically aligns the sequence to the setting of the sun as it shifts throughout the year. He has also maintained the original tungsten bulbs for its stark yellow tones, according to a press release from MoMA PS1. The Museum of Modern Art acquired Meeting as a gift from Mark and Lauren Booth, who provided major support for the ongoing restoration and renovation processes in honor of the 40th anniversary of MoMA PS1. Turrell was involved intimately in the project’s revival, which included the repair of weather-related deterioration and components of a mechanical roof that covers the work when it is not open for viewing. Turrell also designed more durable teak wood seating to replace the original plywood, according to The New York Times. MoMA PS1 will be hosting a series of twenty after-hours sunset viewings for Meeting which require a free advanced ticket through November 5, 2015. Beginning on November 6, the program will fall within regular museum hours.
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Three upcoming NYC art exhibitions that architects will love

One of the advantages of being an architect in New York City is the opportunity to visit the plethora of architectural exhibits in the city's museums and galleries. If you include those art exhibitions that consider architecture directly—or comment on its concerns—then it's a monthly feast of riches. With the start of the post-Labor Day migration, the city's commercial galleries always seem to have a few exhibits for architects. This year is no different: The Architect's Newspaper has already written about The Time Capsules of Ant Farm and LST at Pioneer Works in Red Hook but there are three other potentially compelling exhibits for architects all opening September 8 and 9. The works of photographer Robert Polidori, who has long focused his camera on urban subjects, will be featured in Ecohilia/Chronostasis at Paul Kasmin gallery (293 Tenth Avenue, 9/8 to 10/15). The exhibition will focus on what Polidori calls “Dendritic” or “auto-constructed cities” (as opposed to tightly planned urban developments). Also in Chelsea, Andrea Rosen Gallery will open an exhibit by artist Andrea Zittel showcasing her environmental sculptural pieces (525 West 24th Street, 9/9 to 10/8). Finally, art historian Barbara Rose has curated ED MOSES: PAINTING AS PROCESSthe first major East Coast retrospective of the 90-year-old Los Angeles painter Ed Moses. Moses had long been a patriarchal figure within the L.A. art scene and a favorite of architects in California. ED MOSES is at the albertz benda gallery in Chelsea (515 West 26th Street, 9/8 to 10/15).
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Detroit’s Heidelberg Project to transform into artistic village

Of Detroit’s many enigmatic urban spaces, perhaps the most notable is the Heidelberg Project (HP). The urban art project is comprised two blocks of vacant lots and abandoned houses filled with found objects and brightly painted surfaces. Now 30 years into its existence, HP Founder Tyree Guyton is changing the project’s direction. The Heidelberg Project’s mission “is to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of their greater community.” At the heart of the project is the belief that, “citizens, from all cultures, have the right to grow and flourish in their communities.” In order to expand on these ideals, Tyree Guyton is planning to disassemble the entire project. Guyton’s hope is to transform the one-man project into an arts-focused community project called Heidelberg 3.0. This will not be the first time that the HP has been dismantled. This is just the first time it has been done on purpose. The city bulldozed the project twice in the 1990s. Since its inception, the project has had its ups and downs, politically, economically, and critically. Funded primarily by donations and fundraising, the project has moved from a pilgrimage site of outsider art to a world renowned site of cultural expression. An estimated 200,000 visitors from around the world come to the Heidelberg project every year. The ever-changing project will slowly evolve over the coming years, with the familiar menagerie of old toys, painted signs, and discarded household items slowly disappearing. Eventually, the two blocks will be developed into a “Funky Artistic Cultural Village,” which will include indoor art and educational classes in the four houses within the project. The full vision of the new Heidelberg 3.0 has not been released, but it promises to be colorful.
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New Rashid Johnson exhibition to open at New York’s Hauser & Wirth gallery

Fly Away, named for the perennially reinterpreted gospel “I’ll Fly Away,” is a collection of paintings and sculptures by Rashid Johnson at New York’s Hauser & Wirth gallery. Johnson’s work has been referred to as “post-black,” and often deals with the African-American experience in a range of media, from photographs to music. Following the theme of last year’s Rashid Johnson: Anxious Men at the Drawing Center, the artist uses black soap and wax as materials in Fly Away. Inhabiting one room of the exhibition is “Within Our Gates,” a collection of black metal shelving populated by objects like live plants, books, and shea butter.

According to Hauser & Wirth, the enclosed objects are signifiers inspired by the African diaspora. The room also contains an upright piano that will be played in drop-in performances by Antoine “Audio BLK” Baldwin, a New York–based piano player and music producer. Baldwin will play original jazz compositions during the first week of the exhibition, with periodical unannounced visits afterward. Johnson’s work will also be featured in an exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, early next year.

Rashid Johnson: Fly Away Hauser & Wirth 511 West 18th Street New York September 8–October 22, 2016

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This tilting house is a piece of “performance architecture”

At the end of July, in a field in the middle of the Hudson Valley, this precarious house twisted and tilted for five days while its creators lived inside. The house is called Reactor and it's the latest from collaborators Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley. Schweder and Shelley told The New York Times their work is "performance architecture," a name that reflects their philosophy of building interesting structures and then living in them. Reactor was built at the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York, with dimensions of 40-by-8 feet balanced on a concrete pillar. As Schweder and Shelley lived in the space, both the wind and their own movements kept it in perpetual motion. As breezes spun the structure around the center, it would tilt up and down as the pair moved into the building's different rooms and changed its center of gravity. The installation has similar themes to the pair's previous works which involve a pair cohabiting an unusual space that requires teamwork to get around. For example Orbit from 2013 resembles a giant hamster wheel, with one artist living on top and another living inside the circle. Counterweight Roommate from 2011 had the two attached to each other on opposite sides of a vertical structure, so that for one to go up the other had to go down. Shelley and Schweder shared their journal entries from the first few days of living in Reactor with The New York Times. In them they express the irregularity of the weather and movement patterns in the house, and the calming effects of being in constant motion. They also shared the sense of being intimately aware of your roommate's presence, as the ground under your feet moves with them as well. The house will be on display at the Omi International Arts Center for two years. Scheweder and Shelley will return to spend more time in Reactor for several days in September and October.
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Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse adorned with illusory art courtesy of Felice Varini

Defacing the work of Le Corbusier has become something of a trend of late. However, Paris-based Swiss artist Felice Varini has taken a more elegant approach to the fad. Using optical illusions, Varini's art installation, À Ciel Ouvert (Open Air) is located on top of Le Corbusier's La Cité Radieuse, built in 1952, an iconic modernist structure. “This is the first time that I have exhibited on, in, and with architecture designed by Le Corbusier," said Varini in a press release. "This place is a landmark, a huge influence. It is a true microcosm, designed as a small city with its range of complex volumes, a small city with a view over the large city of Marseille. It is extremely exciting!” Famed for his illusory artwork, Varini has applied his hallmark approach to numerous buildings-turned-canvases over the years. His work ranges from cellars to gothic churches, town squares, and a variety of urban environments. The art, by nature, relies on perspective and orientation. His style features a fragmented geometric aesthetic: circles, triangles and linear forms interact while others fall apart upon the concrete surface of the house. “My concern is what happens outside the vantage point of view,” said Varini in 2008. Speaking of his work on La Cité Radieuse, he added: “I generally scour the venue taking in its architecture, materials, history and function. Based on its varying spatial data, I define a viewpoint around which my initiative takes shape. For me a viewpoint is a point in the space that I choose carefully: it is usually situated at my eye level and preferably located in a key passageway, for example where one room leads to another, a landing, etc. I don’t make a rule of it, as spaces don’t all systematically have an obvious path." "The choice is often arbitrary. The viewpoint will function like a point of interpretation, that is, like a potential starting point to approach the painting and the space. The painted form makes sense when the spectator is in this spot. When the spectator leaves the viewpoint, the work encounters the space generating an infinite number of views of the shape. Therefore I do not see the accomplished work through this first point; this is encompassed in all the views that the spectator may have of it.”
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A new exhibition explores art and architecture projects that minimize their environmental impact

The issue of construction and its environmental effects on land and space is one of great importance to contemporary architects. A new exhibition, Relevant Notes at the Cara Gallery in New York, mixes the works of younger and older architects and artists whose work strived to make minimal permanent change to a site. The exhibit places, for example, projects by Andrés Jaque and Florentine ‘Radical’ Gianni Pettena in close visual and conceptual dialogue. The exhibit includes the work of: Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Ebtisam AbdulAziz, Matteo Berra, 
Igor Eškinja, Bruna Esposito, Franklin Evans, Diango Hernández, Federico Luger, Jason Middlebrook and Gianni Pettena. Cara Gallery is located at 508 West 24th Street and the exhibit runs through July 30, 2016.
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Art F City plans to document the ghosts of art studios past

When artists seize whatever space they can for art-making, frequently the stories behind those transient activities are lost. "What’s now the nanny’s room in Brownstone Brooklyn might’ve been a tiny gallery in a riotous punk house," said Art F City, who's organizing a series of print and online publications that will record the innovation and creativity that once lived in such places. They'll be appropriately titled We Are SO Not Getting the Security Deposit Back: a Guide to Defunct Artist-Run Spaces. Art F City is calling for anyone with a story of such a place to submit to submissions@artfcity.com, providing details about the “now-defunct artist-run space” (where it is located, what it once housed and now is, etc).