The Austrian Cultural Forum’s iconic building by Austrian-American architect Raimund Abraham plays a fitting setting and set-piece for Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America. The exhibition, jointly curated by Stephen Phillips and Axel Schmitzberger, opened on September 25 with a standing-room-only panel and five galleries showcasing the iconic works of expat Austrian masters, from the classic modernist forms of Adolf Loos to the current high-tech work of Peter Trummer. The opening night panel used the contextual significance of the exhibition as a springboard to address broader themes, opening with a conversation between the Austrian passport-carrying panelists including Herwig Baumgartner, Andrea Lenardin, Christoph Kumpusch, Peter Trummer, Bettina Zerza, Duks Koschitz, and Matias del Campo. Their varying generations resulted in the discussion of the contemporary meaning of hyphenated Austrians, as well as the implications of being from an era of voluntary, rather than forceful, migration stateside, differing from their predecessors in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Andrea Lenardin referred to this 20th/21st-century transition as stemming from a collective “idea of the misfit,” to the nods and agreement of everyone else on the stage; “we weren’t forced out, we were free to come here. Hopefully, the 21st-century idea of who you are will not be tied to locality,” said Lenardin. With ideas of identity and the weight of the creators of modernism on the mind, visitors were invited into the galleries after the panel, which was forced to end on time despite the high energy circulating through the conversation to the very end. The galleries are thematically split into the five themes: Primitive Domains, Aggregate Families, Urban Terrestrials, Cloud Natures, and Media Atmospheres, all said to explore the idea of bicultural heritage. However, while the stated intent was ascribed to the sort of heritage discussed on the panel, these five themes were presented more so as shelves on which to categorize interesting projects and objects, rather than come alive as platforms for deeper cultural ideas or placemaking. Starting with Primitive Domains, drawings, models, and photographs explore the beginnings of modernism as geometries set in landscapes, free from ornamentation and following the concept of form and function. As the galleries progress, towards Aggregate Families and Cloud Natures, the architectural forms acquire added complexity, both in form and context—including an evolving urban setting. The works and representations on the walls reach towards increasingly digitized methods of creating, viewing, and building, with the uppermost gallery housing Media Atmospheres, a darkened and immersive space where spatial manipulation—even intangible elements, like neon light—is explored as a manipulation of the human condition itself. While this exhibition explores the physical outcomes of the flow of ideas and design culture from Austria to the U.S, the objects and concepts read more as being a part of the flow of contemporary messages we recognize today, global in scale and adaptation—there is a continuous feedback loop, not a one-way street, in the design world. Today, practicing architects are often true global citizens, like the panelists, all of whom have worked in their home country, the U.S, and around the world, not just as “cosmopolitans” in the dated sense, according to Duks Koschitz. Design and architectural representation, pushing new limits in digital and post-digital worlds, is a language in itself, with an identity untethered from locality, the same untethered existence that Lenardin hopes for the professionals themselves. So while there may indeed be some truth in the humorous myth of the Trummer-suggested Austrian “architect gene” that sent laughs around the stage, it’s no longer contained, but carried by the self-proclaimed misfits in the lab, studio, and world. Resident Alien is on display at the ACFNY until February 17, 2019.
Posts tagged with "Austrian Cultural Forum":
Adolf Loos is widely known for setting the stage for the modernist movement in architecture, and the Austrian architect and theorist is arguably one of the most influential practitioners ever born. At the height of his impact in the late 19th century, when he designing structures both in Austria and what’s now the Czech Republic, Loos began writing seriously on the subject of minimalism and why architecture should do without ornamentation. Richard Neutra was coming of age at the same time, along with his would-be close friend Rudolph Schindler. Both Vienna-born men had hugely successful careers designing modernist homes in Southern California—structures that were undoubtedly guided by the teachings of Loos. An upcoming exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is shining a light on the distinct cultural contributions that Austrian-American architects like Loos, Neutra, and Schindler have made over the last century in the United States. On view starting in September, Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America will feature numerous practitioners whose expertise not only changed the profession but in some cases, the American zeitgeist. Think Victor Gruen, inventor of the mid-century American shopping mall. Curated by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture professor Stephen Phillips and Cal Poly Pomona professor Axel Schmitzberger, the exhibition will break down the impact of the migrant architects through three ethereal categories: Cloud Structures, Media Atmosphere, and Urban Terrestrials. The organizers will rely on the help of designer and UCLA professor, Julia Koerner, as well as B+U co-founder and SCI-Arc professor Herwig Baumgartner, to chronicle the works of their Austrian predecessors in America. Both young architects will also be featured in the show. According to a press release, Resident Alien will bring a much-needed dialogue about the momentous immigration architects made from Austria to the U.S. during the modernist period, and why it so heavily affected American architecture. The curators will also explore the concept of bicultural heritage and how it has been, and is currently, communicated through space, technology, art, education, and more today. While details on the makeup and materials of the exhibition haven’t been released yet, the other contemporary architects represented will include Carl Pruscha, Hans Hollein, Peter Trummer, and Mark Mack, as well as the partners at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Barbara Imhof of Liquifer Systems Group, Maties Del Campo and Sandra Maninger of SPAN Architecture, and Andrea Lenardin of A-L-M Projects, among others. The late Raimund Abraham, who designed the Austrian Cultural Forum's New York building itself, as well as Liane Zimbler, the first European woman to get an architecture degree, will also be featured. Resident Alien will run through February 2020.
Don’t call it a comeback. It appears that drawing is now everywhere. Drawings’ Conclusions just closed at Anyspace, New York; Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation is in the Taubman Gallery at the University of Michigan; The Drawing Show opened recently at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery; Drawbot is at the AA[n+1] Gallery in Paris; and there is the current exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum titled The Projective Drawing.1 It might seem obvious that to exhibit architecture is to exhibit drawings, but for the past twenty years, it has been infrequent to focus an exhibition of contemporary architectural work around the question of drawing. The quick reaction would be to attribute this to the pinging pain of nostalgia in the midst of our image-saturated world. But this would be a mistake, for at their best, these shows revolve around not a return, but a provocation concerning how to define drawing and image in contemporary aesthetic discourse. The curator of The Projective Drawing exhibition, Brett Littman, has explicitly tied the show to a collection of essays written by Robin Evans and published posthumously in 1995 as The Projective Cast. An exhibition squarely in the realm of art that is developed from a piece of architectural theory is quite rare, which is what immediately excited me about the prospects of this show. The drawings exhibited here often reference architecture, and several pieces use techniques more commonly associated with architectural drawing, (the axonometric being the prime example), but these pieces are clearly art, not architectural drawings. Specifically, the difference is that none of the drawings in this exhibition work through projection as practiced by architects and explicated in the texts of Robin Evans. This may initially sound like a critique of the premise of the exhibition, but I assure you it is not, for the problem of projection in relation to drawing is what is at stake. In the essays compiled for Evans’s The Projective Cast and in the influential earlier essay “Translations from Drawing to Building” (1986), Evans observes that a significant amount of architectural representation does not consist of iconic plane geometry or the pictorial under-drawing used to structure composition in painting. Instead, it is focused around translations of formal and spatial notations toward construction. Projective geometry is engaged in order to control these transformations. The shadows cast by projection are controlled distortions, traces registering movements of graphic information, and residues that elude symbolic interpretations associated with the pictorial. For many architects, orthographic projections (which are very different than orthographic drawings), perspectives, or obliques are what differentiate architectural from other types of drawing practices. These are the techniques that discipline an architect toward thinking three-dimensionally through two-dimensions. In other words, projection is the background operating system of architectural drawing. Over the last 25 years, the digital model has replaced the architectural drawing. If drawings are produced from a digital model, they are no longer the graphic traces of constructed projections, they are images, rendered to follow the visual conventions of drawing.2 Although this output may be an image, projective geometry is fundamental for digital modeling software. This is evident not just through the real-time updating of views, or the unfolding/sectioning of surfaces, but also, projection is at the root of calculating texture maps and indices of light reflection; commonly called “rendering.” Evans was prescient about this aspect of projection, for it is much more concerned with the optic than the haptic. Interestingly, architecture has typically considered projection as having more to do with drawing than rendering. The history of drawing is so entwined with projection that the graphic lines constructing projections were literally called “pencils” in early descriptive geometry textbooks. Furthermore, many architects view digital software with suspicion, precisely because of its affiliation with images as opposed to drawings. Evans may not have written much about digital representation per se, but in many ways his arguments accurately articulate the background of contemporary digital modeling software. As it stands, architects today are continuously engaged with the transformations of projective geometry through digital modeling, even if these projections no longer leave a visual residue, and most often operate hidden within the commands of the software. And it is here that we have the problem. If the visible trace of projection was crucial for defining an architectural drawing, and if digital software removes these traces in the production of images, we are left with a curious predicament. When looking at digitally produced drawings, either we are not looking at architectural drawings or, we are not looking at drawings at all. One of these is a disciplinary problem, the other aesthetic. The digital is not a new paradigm in itself. But, it does require revaluations regarding the conventions of different mediums, and it is in these transformations that we may formulate new sets of concerns. The Projective Drawing exhibition offers some fascinating insights on this issue for architectural representation. The drawings in this show mix mediums continuously. At the same time, this is not a post-medium mush where drawing is fused with painting, graphic design, architecture, etc. The questions this work raises have more to do with the tensions between abstraction and realism, and the manners through which drawing can question the ways in which we image the world. In a series entitled transmissions: a more radical elsewhere (2005-2012), William Cordova creates mixed media collages of drawings that build worlds suggesting telecommunication transmissions to places “out-of-field”—potentially even out-of-time. Brigitte Mahlknecht has produced a series of drawings of unfolding axonometric boxes titled Fast Architektur (2017), that use wavering stumbling lines ghostly layered to suggest the impossibility of ever folding these objects back up. The large oblique drawing titled Flatlands (corner) (2016) and created by Seher Shah is clearly indebted to the precision of architectural line drawings and the techniques of axonometry. But in this case, the line work shifts over edges that should define corners calling attention to the flickering instability of optical depth. In a series of small-framed untitled pieces, Leopold Strobl draws on top of color manipulated newsprint clips. Into these landscapes and cities he intervenes with dark blank masses. These hover between object-like figures and void-like removals, establishing a tension with the realism of the mechanically reproduced images in the background. In the most provocative instances, the viewer finds their attention drifting into these backgrounds, wondering what world(s) could contain these things. The works in The Projective Drawing are projective as speculations, not as medium-dependent techniques. Architects have placed too much emphasis on drawing versus imaging as a disciplinary conflict. What matters are paradigms, the concepts made intelligible beside (para) aesthetic provocations. The Projective Drawing exhibition is in many ways an exploration of exactly this; the mediums appropriated within the aesthetics of the works provoke allusions that extend outward. These are relations between aesthetics and politics, between what can be seen and said, and what actions we project into the world. I would much rather have architects arguing about these issues than if their images looked more like drawings or photos.
- Drawings’ Conclusions at Anyspace curated by Jeffrey Kipnis and Andrew Zago brought to New York by Cynthia Davidson; The Drawing Show at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery, originally at A+D Museum Los Angeles curated by Dora Epstein Jones, Drawing Codes curated by Adam Marcus and Andrew Kudless on view at the Taubman Gallery at the University of Michigan, originally at the CCA in San Franciso, Drawbot 2 is on display at the AA[n+1] gallery Paris, France curated by Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou and Leslie Ware, and The Projective Drawing at the Austrian Cultural Forum curated by Brett Littman.
- A fascinating discussion of this condition was recently put forward by John May in the article “Everything is Already an Image” published in Log 40 (MIT Press, 2017)
On February 5, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York opened the exhibition "The Projective Drawing," an exhibition inspired by architectural historian Robin Evans’ posthumous book, The Projective Cast. Evans sought to explore a new approach to our understanding of architecture, one based on the incorporation of the senses: the physical, mental and emotional. Brett Littman, the Executive Director of the Drawing Center and curator of the exhibition, described this strain of thought as “looking beyond pencil and paper to express objects” to “explore the limits of drawing.” Under this rubric, many of the drawings possess a non-linear and non-traditional character that requires thoughtful interpretation from the audience. Located in the Austrian Cultural Forum’s landmark building in Midtown Manhattan, "The Projective Drawing" is displayed in the multi-level gallery space found at the base of the building. The exhibition includes Austria-based and international artists, allowing for a broad range of ideas and representations influenced by their regional contexts. The panel hosted on the opening night of the exhibition featured Elsy Lahner, a curator of contemporary art for the Albertina Museum Vienna, Brett Littman, and exhibiting artists Lionel Favre, Brigitte Mahlknecht and Judith Saupper. Over the course of an hour, Lahner probed the curator and artists on the inspirations behind their work. For instance, Saupper spoke of her fascination with the informal geometry and architecture often found in vernacular Alpine forms, while Favre discussed his search for the hidden traditions that shape our conception of the built environment. As part of the exhibition, on February 19, the Austrian Cultural Forum will host a live performance of American percussionist Billy Martin and Austrian clarinetist Susanna Gartmayer that interprets the exhibited work of Sara Flores. "The Projective Drawing" The Austrian Cultural Forum New York , 11 E 52nd Street Through May 13
Tuesday> Palaces & Ruins of Third-Way Modernisation: The Legacy of Socialist Architecture and Urbanism in Yugoslavia
The Yugoslavian coast lines was the site of an unprecedented wave of modernist architectural monuments in the post–World War II period. This movement and its resulting monuments, buildings, urban and tourist developments created an alien but exotic landscape—a 1:1 museum of superb late-modern design. But the work produced during the period is barely known in this country. To remedy this situation the Austrian Cultural Forum at 11 East 52nd Street in Manhattan is hosting a roundtable discussion Tuesday, October 28th at 6:30p.m. with Vladimir Kulić, Srdjan Jovanović Weiss, and Michael Zinganel. These architects, artists, and intellectuals are all involved in bringing this spectacular work to a wider audience in this country.
The exhibit, The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century City, currently on view at the Austrian Cultural Forum, is meant to provoke a discussion with housing advocates in this country. The Forum will host weekly tours of the exhibit by a variety of housing experts from various academic and professional fields. This Wednesday, the tour will be led by Srdjan Weiss, a Serbian-born architect and theorist based in New York City, with broad knowledge of the subject of housing in this country and Eastern Europe. The tour will be based on Weiss' parallel living experience and expertise in housing design from former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia. Viennese contemporary examples presented at the exhibit in the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York will also be viewed from the lens of large immigrant population—coming precisely from former socialist systems. The socialist culture of communal living with good architectural design seem to have all but disappeared in post-socialist systems neighboring Austria, but they have remained in Vienna as a model that can be learned from. The Austrian Cultural Forum is at 11 East 52nd Street.
Last week at the Phaidon Bookstore in Soho, White Box held a benefit for their new sustainable art garden by organizing a panel discussion called "Sustainable Work Lab: new projects in art, architecture and urban design." Ali Hossaini moderated the discussion between landscape designer Frances Levine, architect David Turnbull, and urban designer Maria Aiolova. Hossaini yielded to Turnbull's freewheeling conversation about Socratic love, i.e. the coupling of poverty and invention. Inspired by his fresh-off-the-plane-from-Kenya presentation, the crowd indulged in the philosophical debate. Turnbull balked at biennials and instead encouraged artists "to make artifacts that are useful and have that magical quality that keep them from being thrown away." "Sustainability should be the bare minimum," concurred Aiolova. She should know. Her firm, Terreform1, held a sustainability love fest all summer long, which culminated in winning the Victor J. Papanek Social Design Award on August 17. Aiolova said that impetus for entering the Design for the Real World competition came after she and partner Mitchell Joachim were approached by Ron Labaco of the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). Though Aiolova was unaware of any financial aspect of the award, she seemed more interested in the conference to be held at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in the fall, where Paola Antonelli will be the keynote speaker and the winning work will be exhibited. The exhibition will come to New York at MAD in the spring 2012, sponsored in part by the Austrian Culture Forum New York. There, the group will discuss "Urbaneering Brooklyn" at a symposium on social design. The model takes a look at downtown Brooklyn one hundred years in the future, a place where all necessities—food, water, and energy—are provided from within the area's boundaries. "We are projecting what the technologies are going to be to achieve the state of self reliance." For her presentation at Phaidon, Aiolova revisited the more practical aspects of some smaller scale projects, like the group's Fab Tree Hab designs, which combine a natural scaffolding made of vines with fully grown trees that are grafted to act as a support structure and columns. Aiolova acknowledged that the design may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for the client who wants to live off the grid, literally at one with nature, the Fab Tree Hab might hold the answer. What about the time it takes to grow the house? "It takes three to nine years for a good bottle of scotch," she said. Back at the studio, Terreform had just completed ONE Lab: Biodesign, a summertime boot-camp where architects, scientists, and artists met to explore design with living matter: