Posts tagged with "Biennial":

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With biennials and triennials paused, it’s the perfect time to rethink their place

2019 was another banner year for architectural biennials and triennials. With roots in world fairs and art biennials, the architecture –ennial as a circuit has been expanding on every shore: Chicago, Oslo, Grand Rapids, Seoul, Cleveland, Istanbul, and Columbus, Indiana, were but a few places that hosted architecture and design exhibitions last year. With so much variety in geography and content, it might be worth asking what, exactly, constitutes an –ennial. First, they are disciplinary events hosted outside of museums, and are temporary, itinerant, ever-evolving. Perhaps more importantly, –ennials, at least, those we will examine here, are performances trying to demonstrate why architecture and design matters to a variety of publics, how, as a discipline, architecture hurts and heals, and where the benefit to host cities might be in the future. Or maybe they are just expensive culture festivals manufactured to drive tourism and bolster civic “brand identity.” It’s complicated—and getting more complicated as we continue through the current pandemic. In her book Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2019), Léa-Catherine Szacka positions –ennials as agents for change operating within the architectural discipline. Over 175 pages, she works to define the “geography of itinerant display” that typifies the –ennial while exploring its “agencies” and effects. She approaches this task in two ways: by erecting (or improvising) a conceptual framework with which to better understand the –ennial phenomenon, and by engaging six of its leading exponents in a series of interviews. Szacka highlights a number of milestones in the development of the –ennial, none as pivotal as establishment of the architecture sector of the Venice Biennale in 1979. The subsequent exhibition in 1980, with its indelible sense for pageantry, built to a kind of global explosion in events by the 1990s. Today, the geography of –ennials is indeed vast, with a program on every continent (yes, even Antarctica). Here in Columbus, Indiana, where we are surrounded by marvels of postwar modern architecture and design, we created Exhibit Columbus in 2016 to explore architecture, art, design, and community through alternating symposia and exhibitions. While we don’t consider Exhibit Columbus a typical –ennial, but rather a project that both investigates the design legacy of this place and presents new ways to engage and care for our community. The copies we have of Szacka’s little volume in the office are filled with Post-It Notes and marginalia; surely, others working in this arena—or those aspiring to—will be glad that the book is saddle stitch bound, as they’ll be flipping back through it for weeks and even in two-to-three years time, when constructing the next exhibition (or project). Architects, planners, and civic leaders should find equal value in Szacka’s study as a reflection on the discipline and practice of architecture, planning strategies, and the creation of city-wide events. I, myself, view the book as a kind of exhibition in itself. A punchy preface by Martino Stierli, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design, directs the reader—or “visitor”—to Szacka’s excellent introduction, which, in turn, gives way to a timeline (de rigueur for any exhibition), leading to the main event—the interviews. On the way out you can glimpse the bibliography that underpins the whole enterprise, but which, according to Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, among the handful of curators Szacka interviews, no one will bother to consult (more on that later). And where the credits should be, there is instead a dazzling photographic array. Yes, there are 30 pages of color images culled from Instagram, beginning with “prehistory” (Aldo Rossi’s 1979 Teatro Del Mundo) and eventually crossing over into history (i.e. the launch and popularization of Instagram at the beginning of the 2010s). When it’s all over, you’ll probably spend a lot of time thumbing the pages of images and seeing how many of the Instagram usernames you recognize. It would be easy to criticize the inclusion of Instagram, the same way that we critique each biennial or triennial. But Instagram is as much a part of the performance and response to any –ennial or exhibition today as a catalog, if not more so. Here in Indiana—deep in the Heartland—we know how important it is to have a digital presence that is clear, smart, and visible to folks who may never actually attend our symposium or visit our exhibition and remarkable small city. A smart Instagram account is a critical part of an event’s success, functioning as an exhibition listing, map, a repository for criticism and commentary, and time capsule all in one. In the introduction to her book, Szacka takes a long view of the –ennial, beginning with the 1895 Prima Mostra Internazionale d’arte della città di Venezia. But the real work gets going as she sets up the connections between the –ennial paradigm and Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (published in 1967, around the time when the professionalization of the “curators” first occurred). Debord bemoaned “a world dominated by entertainment events, and commercially driven tourism,” which certainly seems to sum up the –ennial rather well. Architectural exhibitions are at once conceived as places of exploration, speculation, review, and even formulas for generating new knowledge. At the same time, they are directly tied to cultural tourism, civic boosterism, and urban redevelopment; in a word, capitalism. It isn’t always easy to grasp the particular goals of each –ennial, and certainly they are each created for different purposes. Szacka acknowledges that her book is not a full-fledged, critical reassessment of the role of –ennials (and I agree such a reassessment is needed), but it nonetheless acts as a provocatory first step in this direction. She approaches the subject using three points of criteria: format, space, and content. These terms are explained in some detail along with a kind of preemptive conclusion that seems strangely placed, i.e. before the actual interviews. As a framing device, it is unclear, and besides, Szacka’s terms rarely inform the structure of the interviews. What makes the book so accessible, then, is that one need not fully grasp, or accept, Szacka's framework to enjoy the interviews, which are the real draw here. Her interviews sparkle with interest because of their candidness, variety, and complexity. Szacka has a long-standing stake in the historicization of –ennials (her previous monograph examined the events leading up to and including the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale), and so she makes for an ideal interrogator. I often found myself just as interested in her questions as the answers of her interlocutors. All but one of the six interviews revolve around the logistical problem of curating a large-scale exhibition, yet they never grow stale or repetitive. Nevertheless, I found the selection of interviewees to be somewhat narrow; for example, I would have also appreciated hearing from Beatrice Galilee and her shifting role from curating the Lisbon Triennale to working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and beyond. Indeed, some of the interviews seem more geared to insiders who possess a knowledge of which curator or theme appeared at this or that –ennial. Yet, in spite of these occasional moments, I never felt left out of the conversations. While most interviewees reflect on their work with an uncommon candor, I was most drawn to Colomina and Wigley. Perhaps it was their brashness and honesty about their own work, or maybe it was their unblinkered take on the state of the field and their dismissal of the whole genre of writing that fills the pages of –ennial catalogs (“Nobody reads it”). Certainly, their criticisms of the shortsightedness of –ennials and their commissioners—vis-à-vis material and labor expenditures—are valid. Now more than ever, we need for –ennials to become stronger and smarter “disciplinary agents” in the field, whose interventions might cause us to consider our audiences and communities in new ways. In this vein, Sarah Herda’s interview ends the book on an optimistic note, pushing curators and architects to believe in their ideas so firmly that they are willing to defend them even at the risk of the ideas collapsing in on themselves. This notion of risk taking is so very important to –ennials! If we are to use –ennials for bettering the profession, and therefore our cities, we need to create more spaces where risk taking and even failure can be rewarded. Speaking for myself and my team at Exhibit Columbus, we have embraced the idea of experimentation and risk-taking. After the event’s first iteration in 2017, we moved our focus away from notions of commercialization in the design market to community and local benefits. In the subsequent 2019 edition, we tried to find ways for each of the installations to have deep connections to different communities throughout our small city of 55,000 citizens, and more widely, North America. At the same time, we leveraged the context of Columbus as a place in the middle of this country that deserves global attention. Our greatest risk is the nucleus of our whole project: That a place in Indiana has a history that matters to the future as much as it did to the past. We see it as a kind of model for others to understand and present cultural heritage for future generations without being nostalgic. In her concluding remarks, Szacka poses a pressing question: Can –ennials act as spaces for activism? We think so here in Indiana. Here’s hoping that, pending the outcome of the pandemic, Szacka is able to continue her studies into the –ennial. Richard McCoy is the Executive Director of Landmark Columbus Foundation, which produces Exhibit Columbus.
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Desert X AlUla announces artist lineup

The fourteen artists participating in Saudi Arabia's controversial first Desert X AlUla, a “site-responsive exhibition,” have been announced. The lineup includes artists living and working in Saudi Arabia, including Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Rashed Al Shashai, as well as other artists based throughout the Middle East, Europe, and North America, including previous Desert X participants such as Superflex and Lita Albuquerque. The first international exhibition of the Coachella Valley biennial has been organized along with the Royal Commission of Al-Ula and co-curated by Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield, along with curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza. It will take place in the Al-Ula area in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a region at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s push to invite in more tourism. The large-scale installations are meant to “inspire new dialogue about the desert and reflect on themes that range from the passage of goods and ideas along the ancient incense route, the cultural memory that passage has left, and the natural resources that have shaped the region, both past and present,” according to a release from Desert X. Artists will create installations responding to the particulars of the geology, geography, history, and present of the region, with projects such as an “oasis” of date containers from Zahrah Al Ghamdi, a series of steel rings by Rayyane Tabet meant to engage with the oil pipelines in the region, and a sculpture by Nasser Al Salem that “embraces the idea of time as a continuum that connects all cultures and civilizations.” Desert X has also promised to increase public outreach programming through schools and universities. Desert X AlUla emphasizes the history of Al-Ula as a site of global connection and exchange, but it's become increasingly contentious to participate in programming in the repressive monarchy. Saudi Arabia has been accused of “sportswashing” for inviting major international boxing and golf events to the country, and pop stars like the group BTS have similarly come under fire for performing there. When asked about the pushback to the Al-Ula exhibition, artistic director Neville Wakefield told The Art Newspaper: “We live in binary times, when people are either isolationist or believe in the power of cultural dialogue. Art changes hearts and minds. Denying an entire population this opportunity is to be part of the problem not the solution.” However the choice to work with Saudi Arabia has caused issues even within Desert X. This past fall, the Los Angeles Times reported that three board members—the artist Ed Ruscha, the curator Yael Lipschutz, and the philanthropist Tristan Milanovich—resigned from the organization's board over the choice. Lipschutz told the L.A. Times that he thought the project in Saudia Arabia was “completely unethical,” noting that Desert X wasn’t just starting a “dialogue,” but receiving money from the Saudi royal family. Issues of philanthropic funding have been causing increasing friction in the world of art and architecture, whether it’s BP sponsoring the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Sackler family donating to museums like the Met and V&A, arms profiteers serving on the boards of the Whitney and MoMA The full list of artists is: Lita Albuquerque, Manal Al Dowayan, Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Nasser AlSalem, Rashed Al Shashai, Gisela Colon, Sherin Guirguis, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadim Karam, eL Seed, Wael Shawky, Muhannad Shono, Superflex, and Rayyane Tabet. Desert X AlUla opens January 31st.
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The Architectural Beast distorts architectural imagery at the FRAC Biennale

For the 2019 Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) Biennale in Orléans, France, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz-Alonso curated The Architectural Beast, an installation featuring 17 contemporary artists and architects. Together with Diaz-Alonso, Los Angeles-based designer Casey Rehm co-produced the installation: 12 paired video screens that nod towards Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Large Glass installation). The top panel exhibits printed images the artists have selected to represent their work, while the lower screens show that same imagery being transformed by artificial intelligence software developed by Rehm. Also named The Architectural Beast, the software was designed to independently alter the imagery presented over the course of the three-month installation. According to Rehm, the program's AI is "initially trained on curated datasets of images and texts of the artists representing an institutional understanding of architecture, to an understanding of architecture of populist valuation." The AI, in other words, spends each night conducting image searches for the day's most popular architectural images and then uses the results to manipulate the original imagery. "By the second month of its life," Rehm explains, "it should cross the 50 percent line of curated artist and internet images in its network."
"Through artificial intelligence," wrote Diaz-Alonso in the installation description, "the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind." The AI also uploads the imagery as individual posts on Instagram daily under the username @thearchitecturalbeast, each of which is complemented by cryptic texts that are developed by a separate AI program. This writing, which at first glance read like heavy theoretical essays with the aid of predictive text, was initially trained on the written work of Rehm, Liam Young, and Damjan Jovanovic. The combination of text and imagery created by The Architectural Beast demonstrates one way architects can let go of the wheel and give artificial intelligence greater agency in the role of human-centered design. The installation is currently on view through January 19.
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AN rounds up 2019's must-reads for the holiday season

With the end of the decade on the horizon, AN has once again rounded up the best new releases for holiday reading. This list has something for everyone on your list, whether they want to dive back into Michelangelo's renaissance work, learn the ins-and-outs of socialist architecture, or explore the world's contemporary architectural biennials. While it's too late for holiday shopping, that doesn't mean you can't pick up something for the New Year's break. Note: AN may receive a commission for items purchased through the following affiliate links.  Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display  Léa-Catherine Szacka Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP: $17.99 Recent decades have brought about an onslaught of -ennials (or -iennales), indicating both the growing importance in exhibition design for architects as well as increased capital and spectator entertainment value; architecture for show, but also a “taking the temperature” of the current climate. This little book colleccts conversations between the author and dozens of biennial and triennial curators, as they discuss the showpiece of our contemporary moment in context.  Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design  Edited by Guy Nordenson  MoMA MSRP: $39.57 This collection of 10 seminal essays outlines the contributions of Japanese post-war architect-engineer collaborations that led to some of the country’s most iconic buildings. Japanese domes, bubbles, and sweeping forms fascinated architects and designers worldwide and led to an unprecedented non-linear chapter in architectural history.  The essays, and their generous accompanying images and archival materials, show how the ideas and concepts of these collaborations were passed down seamlessly over several generations, and in some ways, how they still persists as a scientific feat in design imagination today.  Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War By Łukasz Stanek Princeton University Press   MSRP: $60.00 Political regimes have used architecture as a way of transmitting power, legacy, and permanence throughout all of history, and the socialist movements of the mid and late 20th century were no different. Throughout the Cold War years, architects and planners from socialist Eastern Europe worked closely with those in regions such as West Africa and the Middle East, resulting in a substantial reshaping of the great cities of Accra, Lagos and Abu Dhabi, among others.  This text-heavy book brings this story of cross-continent collaboration to life with previously unpublished images and original archival research, revisiting the connective powers, as well as lessons through longevity, of architecture.  A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change By Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP:  $25.52 A moving border is not a border at all—movement becomes negotiable, and the ebb and flow of human fabrication and implication are thrown out of balance. This is a phenomenon observed by ZKM researchers, who have dispatched equipment along the mountainous border between Italy and Austria, the ridge that forms the disparate water flows towards either Northern or Southern Europe. Their findings and cartographic visual language remind the reader that borders and the human political mind are in flux and impermanent, but that our actions towards melting glaciers and climate change are not: in fact, they’re reflected as hiccups in the very borders we try so hard to maintain. As glaciers melt, rivers flood, and borders shift, the environment is literally reshaping political boundaries. The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story  of China’s Instant City Juan Du Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 The “instant city” concept of Chinese mega-development is crystallized in the success of Shenzhen, a government-planned city that seemingly sprouted from the ground. Recognized for its role as an international technology center, economic powerhouse, and mega-city population of over 20 million, Shenzhen also a bit of a mystery, as the same model has been applied to dozens of other "insta-city projects," but none have approached Shenzhen’s overnight celebrity. This book explores the blurry history of the city, beginning with its farmers and oyster fishermen. Tracing policymakers, government regulation, and that the concept of explosive overnight growth is desirable the world over, is an important story for architects and planners everywhere facing the excitement as well as perils of rapid urbanization and industrialization.  Michelangelo, God’s Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece By William E. Wallace  Princeton University Press  MSRP: $29.95 The last two decades of Michelangelo’s life were at first expected to be marked by failure and decline—the Renaissance artist even began to carve his own tomb. However, intervention via the Catholic Church landed Michelangelo with the master plan of St. Peter’s Basilica, a commission that would change his legacy, as well as the course of the Renaissance's architectural history. A fresh look at a portion of the artist’s life that often goes overlooked, the narrative aspects bring to light many myths and very human struggles that the venerated figure overcame. City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present By Alex Krieger Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 A critically deep dive into the visions of utopia that have shaped American development, City on a Hill outlines the idealisms underlying various urban design movements, starting with the first wave of pilgrims looking for a new start. Krieger honors the grand ideas that have moved America and its cities forward over the centuries but also underwrites with a critical eye the lessons that can be learned as we move forward towards contemporary ideals of sustainability and smart cities today. 
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The Wrong gets online exhibitions right

Art exhibitions tend toward the physical, a fact made no more obvious than by the ever-growing count of international biennials; every year, artists, architects, curators, designers, and all manner of hangers-on set off to Venice or Lisbon or São Paolo or Seoul. Jet fuel is burned, lukewarm Prosecco is drunk. In an era that traffics in data, what might be the digital answer to the brick-and-mortar biennial? The Wrong is perhaps one of the right responses to this question. Founded in 2013 by David Quiles Guilló, the online biennial has showcased thousands of artists as part of its radically open exhibition format. Any artist or curator might submit an exhibition, and The Wrong will continue adding them to its directory until the very last day of the biennial.  Living in an off-the-grid home in Alicante, Spain, Quiles Guilló may seem like an unlikely candidate for running a global biennial of net art, but perhaps this is what best embodies The Wrong: de-centered and democratic by definition, one need not be near any global art center—or have the means to reach it—to participate fully in the exhibition. “The Wrong wants to make it easy for curators and artists to exhibit their work, and for the public to enjoy it,” Quiles Guilló said. “Everything I work toward is to achieve this premise.” He is quick to stress however that The Wrong is not designed in opposition to the IRL biennial. “I believe the wrong is a complement to all the already existing events and biennials, a different experience for curators, for the artists, and for the public.” That said, as infinite as an exhibition like the Venice Biennial might feel, The Wrong has them beat. “It’s so vast there is no way you can visit it all,” Quiles Guilló explained, “which mirrors the infiniteness of the digital space.” Artist (and AN contributor) Alice Bucknell, who is exhibiting as part of the pavilion Too beautiful to be real, noted that in contrast to the Venice Biennale or art fairs, there is a “divergence,” perhaps a positive one, between The Wrong and its physical siblings. “There’s an inherent hierarchy informed by the spatiality in traditional biennials and fairs—it conditions your experience of them whether you notice or not,” she said, adding that most art biennials or fairs also have been run in more or less the same way since their inception. “With The Wrong there’s no hierarchy in terms of how you navigate. There are no central pavilions or national pavilions like Venice, there is no up-and-coming sector like Frieze or Basel. There are no costs.” That said, she pointed out that the exhibitors lean heavily toward Euro-America, though this appears to be improving. The Wrong has also attracted its fair share of showy names over the years amid myriad others, such as Marisa Olson and Elisa Giardina Papa. The Wrong’s official landing page is all text, composing many, many links to its various “pavilions.” Bucknell described this design as a “romantic, quite nostalgic idea of the internet as a digital village where you can travel in any order.” In the age of the infinite scroll and the algorithmically organized news feed, where users spend time on just a handful of monopolizing websites, The Wrong brings pack a long-gone Geocities era of the internet with raw hyperlinks and seemingly infinite discovery. “Media today is consumed almost 100 percent based on algorithms, so you only consume something related to what you consumed yesterday, and it is quite hard to break the spell,” said Quiles Guilló. “The Wrong does not use any algorithms, nor compile data from its visitors, so it is a new opportunity to access art and ideas that are not on your regular online diet.”  The Wrong opens its fourth edition to the public on November 1. To attend the opening party, click “Going” on the Facebook event and start commenting.
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What is the architecture of degrowth?

The Oslo Architecture Triennale, now in its seventh iteration, has made a name for itself under the directorship of Hanna Dencik Petersson as one of the most prescient and timely showcases in the relentless stream of -iennales and -ennials, those beloved recurring art and design festivals where dreams are made. After a successful 2016 exhibition themed around migration and identity in the face of hyper-globalization, the program returned in 2019, this time examining climate change, resource allocation, and economic systems under the theme of “degrowth” with Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth. Curated by Interrobang, an architecture and engineering firm, with chief curators Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, Cecilie Sachs Olsen, and Maria Smith, the exhibition is a fresh take on ecology, introducing the ideology of degrowth into architecture discourse and examining how it would help realize a more ecologically-oriented human civilization. Degrowth has recently gotten attention as a new paradigm for understanding a post-consumerist future where resource extraction and economic growth are decelerated, giving way to new social, political, and economic systems that are more harmonious with nature and the earth’s finite resources and terrain. For an exhibition, this is fertile intellectual territory to speculate on the ways in which we build, and how they can evolve in alternative worlds. It is a refreshingly positive take on politics today, as much of our discourse, in architecture and beyond, is overwhelmingly negative and aims to discount or problematize (cancel) rather than propose new ideas or provoke new thoughts. The main festival exhibition, titled The Library, was conceptualized as “a spatial infrastructure for sharing knowledge” and was organized as a series of four rooms or “collections” that featured works ranging from material samples and books to analyses of languages and economic systems. The range and breadth of types of thought experiments presented a holistic and clear vision—almost a manifesto—of what degrowth might look like as an architectural philosophy. It was not a set of solutions, but rather speculative, positive provocations on what this new area of discourse might look like. In the Library's first collection, “The Subjective,” personal identities and rituals were examined. How would life change in a degrowth world? How would we live, laugh, and love? The Aerocene backpack by the Aerocene Community is a personal, solar-powered balloon imagined as an alternative to carbon-intensive jet air travel. Helen Stratford’s Organizational Diagrams for Everyday Life is a set of schematic diagrams that redraw the rituals of a daily schedule to visualize new routines outside of the pressures of work and productivity metrics that define us today. Perhaps the most traditionally eco-friendly collection is the “Objective Collection,” which is about materials and building techniques. Like the rest of the Triennale, it attempts to take these decades-old sustainability ideas and pushes them into new places. Another Column by YYYY-MM-DD is a deployable textile column that can be filled with sand or aggregate to create a site-specific architecture to replace concrete. Multiplo by GUSTO is a simple brise-soleil made of discarded fan covers from an abandoned army base in Northern Italy. A host of other new, eco-friendly materials gave a glimpse into how resource extraction, especially fossil fuels, could be replaced by smaller-scale reuse and bio-engineering to architectural "degrowth." In the Collective and Systemic collections lie the big questions that both define a possible “Architecture of degrowth,” and are also impossible to answer now. How new collectivities and systems would be constructed is not clear in degrowth discourse at the moment, but the ideology is ripe for speculating on how we might live in a post-consumerist, post-growth society. Collective projects include Visual Ecolophonic by INDA and Animali Domestici examines and visualizes the Sami language of Northern Finland, which they describe as more in harmony than nature than most languages. ARPA by (ab)Normal is a theoretical world where artificial intelligence replaces market forces as an organizing principle. It is an important aspect to consider here, as questions about power structures and humanity’s proclivity toward violence have to be taken into consideration. The biggest questions are raised in the Systemic Collection, where entire social and political systems, networks, and environments are rethought at both the local and the global scale. This, according to the curators, is where degrowth departs from previous environmental movements. MassBespoke, a project to build quality housing out of timber, another replacement for concrete, was also on show at the Triennale. By allowing that flexibility in the system, these homes can now be personalized like custom homes. The Intentional Estates Agency (Jesse LeCavalier, Tei Carpenter, Dan Taeyuong, and Chris Woebken) is a set of real and imagined real estate models both new and old—from 19th-century utopias to seasteading—that speculate on alternatives to our current real estate metrics. In addition to the main exhibition, more than 100 events and other programming added to the degrowth chorus. Standouts included a workshop to make tote bags from recycled tote bags from previous events, as well as a spectacular, interactive performance by Rimini Protokoll that made the audience unwilling participants in the complexities and absurdities of our growth-fueled construction industry; politicians engaging in corruption, lawyers battling, financiers gambling, and precarious workers struggling. Perhaps what is the most interesting aspect of this festival are the questions about that come next. How is degrowth a helpful ideology for architecture? Can it provoke new ways of building at the individual level that can become communal and then translate into change at the systemic scale? What power structures are most susceptible to degrowth in architecture? How can the development and real estate industry be convinced to participate in this? How do democracy and degrowth interact? What would happen if the right were to take degrowth and use it as an excuse to enable eco-fascism? Conversely, what does a green, socialist utopia look like? Can every aspect of our lives be redesigned through the lens of degrowth? The answers don’t matter right now, it is the questions being raised that offer promise, and should echo through architecture at this most critical and important time for these eco-ideas.
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ArtPrize brings an inaugural biennial to Grand Rapids

“What does it mean to belong?” is the question posed by the inaugural biennial Project 1: Crossed Lines by ArtPrize taking place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The public art exhibition aims to spark dialogue around questions of access and boundaries through a showcase of public events, sculptures, art installations, and urban interventions. By asking five artists to engage with the community, temporarily alter public space, or create new space, the work exhibited also begs the question: How and for who is the city made? The five artists selected for this year’s iteration include Amanda Browder, Heather Hart, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Olalekan Jeyifous, and Paul Amenta & Ted Lott. Each produced a piece evaluating how lines are drawn and how public and private space is determined—a theme inspired by Grand Rapids’ legacy of public art “defining and enhancing civic space” as outlined in Project 1’s mission. The Boom and the Bust is one such project that references the challenges of housing discrimination and urban inequality, past, and present. The monumental sculpture was created by Olalekan Jeyifous, a Nigerian born, Brooklyn-based artist and architect whose work spans installation, large scale murals, drawing, and sculpture. The 25-foot-tall sculpture resembles an abstracted high-rise building with various styles and sizes of windows. In the center lies a cage-like structure constructed of metal beams. Inside are a collection of small red house-shaped forms. In an interview with ArtPrize, the artist said, “Public art appeals to me because it’s high visibility for the artwork. It allows me to center the art first and put it in front of a larger public audience who may not have access to or even know about gallery openings.” Another highlight from the exhibition is the Oracle of the Soulmates by Brooklyn-based sculptor and performance artist, Heather Hart. Hart’s work often looks at how rooftops serve as thresholds between public and private space. She engages her viewers and activates the installations through oral histories and performances, thus transforming the everyday image of the roof into a stage in which urban space can be reclaimed and personal narratives shared.  Two of Hart’s submerged rooftops can be found in Grand Rapids during the exhibition. One is located in the center of Rosa Parks Circle downtown and the other on the lawn of MLK Park. Visitors are invited to climb on the sculpture, go in the attic, and attend one of many performances staged there throughout the biennial.  Hart is not the only artist in the show engaging the intersections of architecture and performance. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer does just that in his site-specific installation, Voice Bridge, which takes place along the handrails of Grand Rapids’ Blue Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that connects the east and west sides of downtown. The bridge is adorned in 400 lights controlled by the user’s voices. Participants are asked to speak into the intercoms at the end of the bridge and their recorded messages then playback as a loop across the span of the structure.  Now in its 10th year, ArtPrize is one of the world’s largest art competitions, distributing $500,000 in cash prizes by public vote and jury. Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids said in a press release, “For the last decade, ArtPrize has infused the City of Grand Rapids with unparalleled energy... this next evolution of the event will generate new ways for us all to be inspired and challenged, to come together as a community and deepen our connection.”  This year’s programming will run until October 27th. The biennial schedule for years to come is as follows: 2019 — Project 1 2020 — ArtPrize, Sept. 16-Oct. 4 2021 — Project 2 2022 — ArtPrize, Sept. 21-Oct. 9 2023 — Project 3 2024 — ArtPrize, Sept. 17-Oct. 5
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Mariana Pestana to curate fifth Istanbul Design Biennial

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) has named Mariana Pestana as the curator for the fifth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, which will take place in the Turkish metropolis in fall 2020. Established in 2012 as an international exhibition of creative work from the fields of urban design, architecture, new media, graphic, industrial, product, interior, and fashion design, the Istanbul Design Biennial aims to celebrate and embrace the city’s emergence as a global economic force with considerable creative potential.

Splitting her time between Porto, Portugal, and London, Pestana is the cofounder of an interdisciplinary practice called The Decorators and works primarily on cultural programs and design interventions for public space. She also has extensive experience in academic and curatorial work. Since pursuing her Ph.D. in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College of London, Pestana has taught at the Royal College of Arts, the Chelsea College of Arts, and Central Saint Martins. Pestana has also served as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Department of Architecture, Design, and Digital, and has co-curated exhibitions for the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and the 2019 Porto Design Biennale.

The fourth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, which took place in 2018, centered on the design process through six distinct “schools.” While a thematic focus for the fifth edition has yet to be announced, it is clear that Pestana will bring significant experience in design-based exhibition work to the Bosphorus over the course of the next year.

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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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Forensic Architecture and seven other artists withdraw from Whitney Biennial

Update: As of July 26, Warren B. Kanders has resigned from the board of the Whitney Museum, according to the NYT. It's unclear now whether the eight artists and collectives that withdrew from the Biennial late last week will move forward in removing their artwork on August 2, as was scheduled. Meanwhile, six other artists have announced their intention to remain in the showcase. Over the weekend, eight artists whose work is showcased in this year’s Whitney Biennial have called for their pieces to be removed from the museum, citing one board member's ties to supplying tear gas and live ammunition to countries currently in political crises, including the U.S.  According to Artforum, even after months of protests from artists and other scholars, the Whitney Museum has yet to force the resignation of Warren B. Kanders, vice-chair of the board and CEO of global weapons manufacturer Safariland. His products have been used to squelch protests in at least 13 countries, leading the major art event to earn the nickname, “The Tear Gas Biennial.” In an open letter to the biennial’s curators first published on Artforum, the first group of four artists shared their reasons for withdrawing their work:
“We care deeply about the Whitney. Over the years, many shows at the Museum have inspired and informed our art. We were angry when we learned of Kanders’s role as CEO of Safariland, a company that manufactures tear gas and other weapons of repression. At the time, we had already accepted your invitation to participate in the Whitney Biennial and were all well into fabrication of major pieces for this show. We found ourselves in a difficult position: withdraw in protest or stay and abide a conflicted conscience. We decided to participate.” “But the Museum’s continued failure to respond in any meaningful way to growing pressure from artists and activists has made our participation untenable. The Museum’s inertia has turned the screw, and we refuse further complicity with Kanders and his technologies of violence.”
Among the eight artists to denounce the Biennale was the University of London-based research group Forensic Architecture, which uses architectural spatial analysis and forensic techniques to study human rights violations around the world. Hyperallergic reported that the studio and its partner Praxis Filmes has asked the Whitney to replace its 10-minute video Triple-Chaser, which traces the spread of tear gas and bullets through companies like Safariland, with a new film that shows incriminating evidence that Kanders is directly linked to a bullet company that’s been selling products to the Israeli Military Industry. The New York Times dually noted that Kanders’ supply of tear-gas grenades have been allegedly used during protests at not only the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza, but also at United States-Mexico border, in Ferguson, Missouri, and at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles both North and South Dakota. Forensic Architecture and its founder Eyal Weizman have not commented on the news yet, but Whitney director Adam D. Weinberg, released a statement on Friday saying the museum will follow through with the artists’ requests, according to the New York Times “The Whitney respects the opinions of all the artists it exhibits and stands by their right to express themselves freely. While the Whitney is saddened by this decision, we will of course comply with the artists’ request.”  It’s unclear exactly when the pieces will be removed from the exhibition, but it will likely happen quickly as the Biennale is set to close in two months. So far, work from the remaining 67 exhibitors will stay on view in the showcase through September 22.  After this article was published Forensic Architecture released an official statement on its withdrawal writing: "As a result of our findings, and in solidarity with Palestinian resistance, Forensic Architecture and Praxis Films together believe our position within the Biennial is no longer tenable. We continue to demand that Kanders is removed from his position on the Whitney’s board of trustees."
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Forensic Architecture sets a high bar at the Whitney Biennial

“While my company and the museum have distinct missions, both are important contributors to our society,” said Whitney Museum of American Art vice chairman Warren B. Kanders. This statement, salvaged from a letter leaked by ARTnews in December, sets the tone as the opening visual for Forensic Architecture’s installation at the Whitney Biennial—a 15-minute video delivering the collective's most recent foray into artificial intelligence, titled Triple Chaser. The London-based architecture and science research group chose to respond to the Kanders tear gas and munitions scandal not with a withdrawal from the biennial, but with the creation of a work of art-as-social justice tool, a submission that infiltrates the subject of derision’s own institution. Their video, created in collaboration with director Laura Poitras and Praxis Films, is narrated by David Byrne cooly explaining how FA approached the training of a computer program to track and recognize images of “Triple Chaser” tear gas canisters and subsequently reduce the amount of human labor needed to do so. The program is trained to recognize the canisters, so named for the way they break into three distinct pieces after being fired, and not become used to identifying just the degraded landscapes they usually occur in. Forensic Architecture’s website, as well as the video, comments that “Whereas the export of military equipment from the US is a matter of public record, the sale and export of tear gas is not.” The analyzed images act as proof of their use, and therefore sale, to over 14 countries including US border states -- and these canisters are just one of the many munitions manufactured by Defense Technology, a subsidiary of the Safariland Group -- Kanders is the founder, chairman, and chief executive. Byrne’s narration clearly and objectively describes the group’s methods in creating a piece of artificial intelligence, accompanied by visuals and music that are at once pragmatic as well as sensually arresting. Viewers are prompted before one section of the video with a seizure warning, as a series of bold geometric backgrounds used to train the program appear, the compositions flashing at rapid speed on screen, a kaleidoscope of color and stimulation. The tear gas cans are highlighted and boxed in bright pinks, yellows and blues that act as sharp contrasts against the dusty, barren landscapes of the war zones they are scattered in. Whole sections of the video are also set to the symphonic music of Richard Strauss, Kander’s personal choice for the Aspen Music Festival section named for him after a multi-million dollar donation. The haunting strings and dramatic woodwind crescendos are fitting for the eerie images they amplify. This video is an overtly collaborative work, and FA reached out to other artists and activists working in zones of political unrest, where the canisters are common, to fill out their image banks. The video shows one video submission of a rusted canister from an artists colony in Israel, one that Byrne introduces as “one of the most heavily gassed artist's colonies in the world.” In FA’s data-driven way, their video encompasses why a cultural institution like the Whitney cannot have, in the opinion of many, a man like Kanders on a board that should be protecting, not attacking, artists and their voices. Forensic Architecture as a firm, a lab, a collective, is inherently interdisciplinary, regularly overstepping traditional boundaries between professions and genres. Their “artwork” is serving a similar focus as well. Is this video just as much “art” as the Arroyo paintings in the same gallery? Politics have always been a subject of art, artists and creative output, but the contemporary climate seems to be showing artists as not only creating political works, but exposing politics and its maneuvering as art inherent in its existence -- politics create culture, and other elements of culture are responding to what politicians and votes are “creating.” But is “Triple Chaser” a work of art, or a work of journalism, or of anthropological research? A reorganization and alt-method of displaying data, the inclusion of Forensic Architecture at the Whitney Biennial sets a possible precedent for contemporary art, one that may be hyper-specific to current events, relevant due to an Internet-age concept of timeliness.
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Review: Manifesta 12 is the real deal

Manifesta 12’s The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence, which opened on June 16 in Palermo, Sicily, is a sprawling and at times fragmented series of venues and events. But unlike other art and architecture biennials whose main purpose is to deliver trends, Manifesta 12 is the real thing. This is an exhibition that’s been hardwired into the city’s fabric, and while undeniably the city of Palermo completely upstages the Manifesta exhibition, this must have been the prime intention of the curatorial team from the start. Manifesta 12 is Palermo, and therefore the exhibition is a diagram to explore the city and to discover some of the most fascinating and haunting architectural spaces anywhere in the European-Mediterranean region. It is precisely this urban-based formula that the Dutch-based Manifesta “franchise” is best known for, and therefore the impressive success of this exhibition has much to do with the way the curators have been able to weave their fertile themes into the city’s fabric. There is art, there is architecture, and there is the city. Given how much there would be to cover in a review of this size, I will try to present some of the biennial’s bolder highlights. Much of the credit for Manifesta’s achievements is thanks to OMA’s partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli who led the curatorial team. Laparelli succeeds in cracking Palermo’s urban code, precisely because he trains his lens on Palermo’s convoluted urban fabric, its magnificent cardo and decumanus, the overgrown gardens, the abandoned urban masterplans, and melancholic housing estates. As Laparelli notes in the opening introduction to OMA’s Palermo Atlas, “the Biennial’s thematic and geographic organization are intertwined, triggering a journey through the city like a section through anatomy; from the abandoned and derelict heritage of the old town to the failed utopia of the outskirts; from the glorious history of its Gardens to its neglected and toxic coast.” This is especially true of the city and its dramatic relationship to its old town, one of the largest historic city centers in Europe. And yet this impressive segment of the city lies in some kind of lethargic black hole when compared with the adjacent districts of Palermo that grew in the thirties and then expanded exponentially in the sixties. The one constant is the draw of the periphery, which serves as the cash cow for the city’s black economy while the old town lies in neglect and disrepair—a condition the city continued to submit to well into the nineties. In order to better comprehend where Palermo was headed, Manifesta enlisted politicians, local associations, patrons of the arts, and institutions to suggest ways to engage the city, to establish new routes of access, and to generate new kinds of cultural experiences. By and large, it’s a project that has pervaded into different levels of society, and it’s not uncommon on the streets to hear locals discuss Manifesta’s merits or problems. And there are viable results: Massimo Valsecchi and his wife Francesca have made it their mission to restore the magnificent Palazzo Butera in the heart of the city. Valsecchi, whom I spoke with during Manifesta’s opening, saw the renovation of Palazzo Butera as a stopgap measure, a way to decisively reengage the city’s historic axis by reasserting the building’s role as both palatial seawall and monumental gateway to the ancient city. For what turns out to be the price of a single Gerhard Richter painting, the purchase of Palazzo Butera by these important Lombard contemporary art collectors could impact the city’s future. But for now, the palace’s impressive interior renovation, in preserved ruin style, frames Manifesta’s verdant exhibition Garden of Flows. Not far from Palazzo Butera one can enter the historic Botanical Gardens, another destination in the procession of Garden of Flows, to become entangled in the rhizomatic plant cultivations. Much of the same could be said about another architectural monument, Palazzo Forcella de Seta, an old bastion with a casino built above it from the 17th century. It’s aligned perpendicularly with the seafront and is just as mesmerizing a stage for this exhibition. This Moorish-influenced venue is one of the spaces around the city that are assembled together and are “Out of Control,” along with the Palazzo Ajutamicristo where we are confronted with projects investigating different conditions on immigration, data, and identity. There are projects by Forensic Architecture’s offshoot, Forensic Oceanography, where they investigate the militarized control of the Mediterranean, and Tania Bruguera’s look at the Mobile User Objective System, known as MUOS, the cordoned off American base in southeastern Sicily directing remote drone warfare. But it’s the urban conundrum that remains most compelling, and beyond the layers of 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings, streetscapes, and gardens. There is also a ponderous stratum of Fascist-era buildings, many in near states of abandon, but all intriguing for what they once represented in the time of Fascistization when Sicily’s mafia was subjugated and Mussolini’s regime added its symbolic stamp to the island. One building in particular, the Casa del Mutilato, stands out for its unfinished beauty and troublesome iconography. Designed by the architect Giuseppe Spatrisano in 1939, the modern rationalist style building remains surprisingly intact with most of its original statues, icons, murals, furniture, and memorabilia. Inside its main interior hall is Cristina Lucas’s Unending Lightning, a mapping of the long and fatal history of aerial bombing. There’s also an intervention by Alessandro Petti’s "De-colonizing Architecture” developed by the students attending the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Their workshop and symposium, “The Afterlife of Colonial-Fascist Architecture,” featured a scissor lift that extended up into the open dome of the central courtyard, inserted there to disrupt the building’s regimented spatial order. When I asked Petti about their intentions, he responded by saying: "With the re-emergence of today’s fascist ideologies in Europe–and the arrival of populations from north and east Africa–we have had to ask ourselves: how do the material traces of the Italian empire today acquire different meanings in the context of migration from the ex-colonies?” This point is especially onerous because not much inside this building has changed since its opening, and the building still features the original Fascist era maps of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Petti went on to note: “We have had to ask who has the right to reuse this fascist colonial building? Shouldn’t people arriving today from these countries that suffered fascist colonial occupation have the right to re-inhabit these kind of buildings?” But it doesn’t end here. Post-war Palermo continues to be fraught with good architectural intentions gone sour. Nothing encapsulates this urban dilemma more than ZEN (Zona Espansione Nord), a public housing expanse from the late sixties designed by Vittorio Gregotti with a team that included Franco Purini. Like many of these largescale mass housing projects built from this era, ZEN’s reputation belies its origins. According to an interview with Purini from 1998, the strength of this project was in its desire to replicate regional territorial characteristics, specifically the fenced citrus groves found all around the area. Purini, who would go on to develop the master plan for earthquake-devastated Nuovo Gibellina, recalled Gregotti’s close relationship with the Sicilian publisher Sellerio, who sought to ground Gregotti in the island’s local building culture, which resulted in the project’s unusual compactness. Evidently, the project stripped of its amenities was doomed to failure. But here is where Gilles Clément, author of The Third Landscape and guru behind Manifesta’s Planetary Garden concept, is making a significant comeback, precisely in these original disaffected groves. To get the perfect overview of Palermo, one can make his or her way up to the top of the peak Pizzo Sella, where the group Rotor has transformed one of the many unfinished and illegal private homes, basically a concrete frame into a spectacular viewing platform. Manifesta 12 is worth the time and the space. Some might worry it prefigures a wave of gentrification that will certainly kill all that is so enchanting about this city: the entropic streets and gardens, the ruined palaces, the many multi-cultural public spaces, polyvalent cuisines, and the sublime beauty of the city. But I don’t think so, or not just yet given the unusual political direction the city is taking under its current mayor. Leoluca Orlando, a veteran of previous campaigns against the Mafia, sees a bright future for the city in welcoming new immigrants. Palermo should not be considered a European peripheral city, but rather the center of the greater Mediterranean region: Sicily is at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East, and the Ionian islands with a centuries-old history of multi-ethnicism and multi-culturalism. I see Palermo as an alternative model for living, outside the tired economies and nationalistic concerns of an older Europe. It will be interesting to see if Manifesta 13 will keep this kind of critical edge when it lands in Marseille in 2020. Manifesta 12’s The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence is curated by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Mirjam Varadinis, Andrés Jaque, Bregtje van der Haak and is on view through November 4.