Earlier this month, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) gave a preview of what to expect at the John Hejduk exhibition, now showing at The Cooper Union. Seven works from the New York-born architect are on display inside with his memorial to Jan Palach exhibited outside in Cooper Square Park. The exhibition offers insight into Hejduk's career as an architect, teacher, and person. Presented as newspaper clippings, poetry, photography books, and drawings (from the architect himself in some cases) the exhibition demonstrates Hedjuk's pedagogical contribution—showcasing theoretical work as well as built projects. Here, "program" takes precedence, as Hejduk conceived radical programmatic concepts, imagined at the time as never-to-be-built projects, or otherwise manifesting in stories. Hejduk was the founding dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union. There he was able to spread his ideas during his 25-year tenure. "The small scale of Cooper Union enabled him to bring forth a more ‘precise’ culture, where craft, making, and representational tools were diversified, and where their instrumentality was put to focus, Nader Tehrani, the current dean of the school, told AN. Ideas and concepts with Hejduk, however, progressed to more than just that. In 1988, Douglas McGill wrote in the New York Times: "a strange thing has begun to happen: many of Mr. Hejduk's imaginary buildings have begun to be built." Seven of these built works, some ephemeral, some not, have been photographed by Hélène Binet, Hejduk’s photographer of record. Steven Hillyer, director the school’s archive, worked with Binet to select what photos to exhibit. To Tehrani, the photographed works represent the episodic nature of his career—phases which were "more diverse than a single narrative." "As such, whereas the Berlin Tower project extends his preoccupation with the fabrication of characters, often through anthropomorphism (and zoomorphism), the wall house emerges from a different (and earlier) trajectory that deals with the elements of architecture in their abstract and figurative potentials, in some way extending the modern experiments of Le Corbusier where Corb could not take them," said Tehrani. "It's like a traveling repertory theater," Hejduk said of his buildings to McGill in 1988. "They come into the town, they do what they have to do, and they leave to go to the next place. I love that." One of those works is the Jan Palach Memorial, one of Hejduk’s most provocative sociopolitical works which comprises two structures: House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide, both of which include 49 spikes erected onto timber cuboids. The pieces memorialize Jan Palach, a Czech dissident who set himself on fire in 1968 to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. First constructed in Atlanta by Georgia Tech students and alumni under the supervision of Professor James Williamson in 1990, the memorial traveled to Prague the following year. Twenty-five years later, it was realized again in Prague as a permanent installation adjacent to Jan Palach square, being built as an entirely new construction in stainless steel and Corten steel. Now the design has been erected in Cooper Square (a time-lapse can be viewed below). The gravitas of Hejduk's work is still relevant today. "This is a work that honors an ultimate sacrifice in the face of extraordinary oppression as well as the apathy that can often accompany it," Williamson told AN. "And we don’t have to look as far as the Ukraine or Syria for its topicality; we can simply turn on the latest evening news to watch oppression unfold." "My father was incredibly dedicated to human rights and the social contract," said Renata Hejduk, John's daughter, speaking to AN. "The pieces stand as representations that speak to injustice everywhere and anywhere and the power of the human will and the fight for freedom and tolerance." Tehrani meanwhile, added that "it was important to undertake the opportunity to exhibit the memorial "if only to help historicize John Hejduk from a perspective that we can now appreciate with critical eyes. The Cooper Union has not had that opportunity to date, and this can become a moment to bring key intellectuals, collaborators, and alumni to voice some of their thoughts as they look back on this legacy." The exhibition will be on view through April 29, 2017, in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery at The Cooper Union. Visitors will have more time to take in the Jan Palach Memorial, which will be displayed until June 11. “We are hoping,” said Hillyer, “that this will be the first of many installations realized by the school.”
Posts tagged with "John Hejduk":
John Hejduk will be portrayed in a new light at The Cooper Union later this month where seven works from the architect will be on display, both inside and out.
"Hejduk was often criticized for work lacking social or political relevance," James Williamson, Dean and Professor Office of the Dean College of Architecture Texas Tech University told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "These objects reveal how misconceived such a judgment was," he added, referring to Hejduk's Jan Palach Memorial which will be on display.
Born in New York to Czech parents, Hejduk (1929–2000) was the founding dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, a post he held for 25 years. He is highly regarded for his contribution to the discipline in terms of both pedagogy and design and the upcoming exhibition strives to reflect the dual elements of his practice. Forty-three photographs by Hélène Binet, Hejduk’s photographer of record, can be seen inside The Cooper Union, and Hejduk's Jan Palach Memorial will be exhibited outside as part of the New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program in nearby Cooper Square Park. The Jan Palach Memorial, one of Hejduk's most provocative sociopolitical works, comprises two structures: House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide, both of which include 49 spikes erected onto timber cuboids. The pieces memorialize Jan Palach, a Czech dissident who set himself on fire in 1968 to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Today, the political overtones of the work are poignant. "Given what is going on right now, both in this country and globally, it's even more relevant," said Steven Hillyer, director the architecture school's archive. The outdoor installation is a fitting precursor to Binet's photographic work inside: "You can never compete with a physical experience of a building," she said. "I show details so the audience can dream about the rest and relate to the human-scale objects. Let's dream about [Hejduk's] dream, rather than feeding the audience objects." Binet prefers black-and-white film for the limitations the analog format provides, parameters that, she says, pushes her creatively. Works featured range in scale and include The Collapse of Time, the Berlin Tower, and the Wall House II in Groningen, the Netherlands. Binet explained how her photographic work progressed while she worked with Hejduk. She cited his method of "teaching through osmosis," the "social contract" Hejduk established with his students. She worked with Hillyer to reflect this pedagogical approach, too. Nader Tehrani, incumbent dean at the school of architecture, expanded on the influence of Hejduk's teaching style. "On the one hand, he brought disciplinary projects to the table that had deep histories, and on the other, he brought individuated attention to students’ independent platforms of thinking, such that he could leave latitude for creative and intellectual development outside of his own ideological predispositions," he said. "The small scale of Cooper Union enabled him to bring forth a more ‘precise’ culture, where craft, making, and representational tools were diversified, and where their instrumentality was put to focus. It is hard to imagine an intellectual figure who has had the ability to produce so many other critical voices: teacher, practitioners, deans, and activists, the very many who now occupy key positions at other reputed institutions." The exhibition will be on view March 29 through April 29, 2017 in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery at Cooper Union. Visitors will have more time to take in the Jan Palach Memorial, which will be displayed until June 11. "We are hoping," said Hillyer, "that this will be the first of many installations realized by the school."
John Hejduk’s pair of architectural structures, The House of the Suicide and the House of the Mother of the Suicide, are once again on view in Prague. Inspired by a poem by David Shapiro, the pieces were first designed in the late 1980s as an ephemeral memorial in tribute to the 1969 self-immolation of the Czech dissident Jan Palach whose death was in protest of the 1968 Soviet invasion. On January 16 permanent versions of the two structures were installed in Jan Palach Square (formerly Red Army Square), with a plaque that displays Shapiro's poem, “The Funeral of Jan Palach.” It took a long time for The House of the Suicide and the House of the Mother of the Suicide to find their way to the square. The structures were first created in 1986 by a group of students from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, under the direction of James Williamson in collaboration with Hejduk. In 1991, on the invitation of Václav Havel, Hejduk installed a second version of the works in the Royal Garden at Prague Castle. In a gesture of democratic solidarity, the structures were dedicated to the president and the people of Czechoslovakia. But by the end of the decade the wooden structures were weather beaten, had fallen into disrepair, and were removed. According to Hejduk’s daughter, Renata Hejduk, the idea to permanently install the work came back to life in 2000, when the architect was on his deathbed, but it took another fifteen years of false starts and political wrangling before the designs were finally installed. “It was very sad and painful for him that they were deteriorating,” she told AN, recalling that visitors to Prague would send home reports that the structures were stored behind bars. “They were locked up almost like political prisoners. It has been so long and it is bittersweet, but I’m elated and overjoyed that my father’s wish that these pieces be saved was granted.” The site in Jan Palach Square was developed MCA Studio under architects Miroslav Cikán and Pavla Melková, in collaboration with architect Václav Králíček and derives from an earlier plan to locate the works on Alšovo nábřeží, which was part of a 2002 competition study for Palachovo náměstí by Václav Králíček. Beginning in 2014, Prague City Gallery was in charge of the implementation. The House of the Suicide and the House of the Mother of the Suicide are part of Hejduk’s Masque series and are often considered two “characters”—a mother and a son. Each 9-foot by 9-foot cube is topped by a crown of steel spikes. Hejduk’s work is deeply moving as well as political, a reminder that form and content are not polar opposites. “Pieces are in the middle between incredible beautiful and poetic and strong with a message,” noted Renata Hejduk. “My father thought of the spikes as a sunburst, as sonic—the mother is quiet and turning in on herself. Implosion of sound and explosion. The sonic act when Jan dies is his sound going out into the universe as an act against the apathy of the students in 1968. He set himself on fire to set them on fire.” In this current iteration fabricated by Czech KRUNTORÁD Metal Design, the son, or The House of the Suicide, is clad in burnished stainless steel and the mother is clad in dark CorTen steel. The son structure is totally sealed, but the House of the Mother has a cramped room with a single window that looks forever out at her martyred son. “These projects have been looking for a home for 30 years,” said Williamson. “It’s paradoxical, Hejduk’s masques are often thought as vagabond or itinerant, to use Tony Vidler’s terms. But these structures were always about Prague and about this young man, these were always about a particular place. The fact that we can bring them back to that place is fantastic.”
On View> The Cooper Union presents “Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky & the Architectural Association”
Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky & the Architectural Association Cooper Union 30 Cooper Square, New York Through November 25, 2015 Boasting a remarkable array of artwork from both past and contemporary architectural figures such as John Hejduk, Michael Webb, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Bernard Tschumi, Drawing Ambience reflects and encourages the late Alvin Boyarsky’s assimilation of architectural drawings. During his tenure at the Architectural Association in London, Boyarsky developed a profound appreciation of these drawings. Known as a man with a keen eye for talent, Boyarsky fostered many young architects who would later dominate the field. He urged his students to investigate contemporary issues and use the evolving global culture as a vehicle to develop their own architectural agendas. These agendas manifested in the students’ visual work that Boyarsky regarded as equally important to the physical structures they depicted, viewing them as pieces of architecture in their own right. Visitors can expect to see works ranging from Hadid’s chaotic and crisp visualizations of her un-built projects to Koolhaas’ playful, almost Gameboy-esque The Pleasure of Architecture. The exhibition is currently on view at the Cooper Union in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery and closes on November 25.